Soy isoflavone metabolism in cats compared with other species: urinary metabolite concentrations and glucuronidation by liver microsomes

Xenobiotica. 2016;46(5):406-15. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2015.1086038. Epub 2015 Sep 14.


1. Soybean is a common source of protein in many pet foods. Slow glucuronidation of soy-derived isoflavones in cats has been hypothesized to result in accumulation with adverse health consequences. Here, we evaluated species' differences in soy isoflavone glucuronidation using urine samples from cats and dogs fed a soy-based diet and liver microsomes from cats compared with microsomes from 12 other species. 2. Significant concentrations of conjugated (but not unconjugated) genistein, daidzein and glycitein, and the gut microbiome metabolites, dihydrogenistein and dihydrodaidzein, were found in cat and dog urine samples. Substantial amounts of conjugated equol were also found in cat urine but not in dog urine. 3. β-Glucuronidase treatment showed that all these compounds were significantly glucuronidated in dog urine while only daidzein (11%) and glycitein (37%) showed any glucuronidation in cat urine suggesting that alternate metabolic pathways including sulfation predominate in cats. 4. Glucuronidation rates of genistein, daidzein and equol by cat livers were consistently ranked within the lowest 3 out of 13 species' livers evaluated. Ferret and mongoose livers were also ranked in the lowest four species. 5. Our results demonstrate that glucuronidation is a minor pathway for soy isoflavone metabolism in cats compared with most other species.

Keywords: Cat; daidzein; dog; equol; genistein; glucuronidation; isoflavone; soy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Equol / urine
  • Estradiol / chemistry
  • Ferrets
  • Genistein / urine
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Glucuronidase / urine*
  • Herpestidae
  • Isoflavones / chemistry
  • Isoflavones / urine*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism*
  • Soybeans / chemistry*
  • Species Specificity


  • Isoflavones
  • dihydrodaidzein
  • dihydrogenistin
  • Estradiol
  • Equol
  • daidzein
  • glycitein
  • Genistein
  • Glucuronidase