Influence of different lignan compounds on enterolignan production by Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains

Int J Food Microbiol. 2019 Jan 16:289:17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2018.08.028. Epub 2018 Aug 30.


Enterolignans, i.e. enterodiol and enterolactone, are polyphenols derived from the microbial metabolism of dietary lignans. They are considered phytoestrogens because of their estrogenic/antiestrogenic activity, which confers them benefits to human health when they reach sufficient levels in plasma. Hence, there is a great interest in studying the bacteria involved in enterolignan production. In the present study, three bifidobacterial strains (Bifidobacterium bifidum INIA P466, Bifidobacterium catenulatum INIA P732 and Bifidobacterium pseudolongum INIA P2) were found capable of producing low levels of enterodiol (2-11 μM) from lignan extracts; while another one (Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum INIA P946) was found to produce an important increment of the lignan secoisolariciresinol (SECO). Subsequently, the three enterodiol-producing bifidobacteria and another three Lactobacillus strains previously identified as enterolignans producers (Lactobacillus gasseri INIA P508, Lactobacillus salivarius INIA P448 and Lb. salivarius INIA P183), were tested on pure lignans yielding both enterodiol and enterolactone from secoisolariciresinol (SECO), while they did not metabolised the other lignan tested (i.e. matairesinol). B. catenulatum INIA P732 and Lb. gasseri INIA P508 were the strains that transformed the greatest percentage of SECO, yielding enterolactone concentrations above 2 mM. In addition, the formation of the intermediate compound dihydroxyenterodiol was observed as part of SECO transformation by all the strains. In this work, we have demonstrated for the first time how strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are capable of carrying out the complete enterolignan metabolism, transforming a purified lignan (SECO) into enterodiol and enterolactone. The isolation and characterization of bacteria able to metabolize lignans and produce enterolignans, especially belonging to Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus genera, is of biotechnological interest, because of their potential application in functional foods and as probiotics.

Keywords: Bifidobacteria; Enterodiol; Enterolactone; Food; Lactobacilli; Lignans.

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism*
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Lactobacillus / metabolism*
  • Lignans / biosynthesis*
  • Lignans / metabolism*


  • Lignans
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butane-1,4-diol
  • 4-Butyrolactone
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butyrolactone