Use of Physiologically Based Kinetic Modeling to Predict Rat Gut Microbial Metabolism of the Isoflavone Daidzein to S-Equol and Its Consequences for ERα Activation

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2020 Mar;64(6):e1900912. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201900912. Epub 2020 Feb 25.


Scope: To predict gut microbial metabolism of xenobiotics and the resulting plasma concentrations of metabolites formed, an in vitro-in silico-based testing strategy is developed using the isoflavone daidzein and its gut microbial metabolite S-equol as model compounds.

Methods and results: Anaerobic rat fecal incubations are optimized and performed to derive the apparent maximum velocities (Vmax ) and Michaelis-Menten constants (Km ) for gut microbial conversion of daidzein to dihydrodaidzein, S-equol, and O-desmethylangolensin, which are input as parameters for a physiologically based kinetic (PBK) model. The inclusion of gut microbiota in the PBK model allows prediction of S-equol concentrations and slightly reduced predicted maximal daidzein concentrations from 2.19 to 2.16 µm. The resulting predicted concentrations of daidzein and S-equol are comparable to in vivo concentrations reported.

Conclusion: The optimized in vitro approach to quantify kinetics for gut microbial conversions, and the newly developed PBK model for rats that includes gut microbial metabolism, provide a unique tool to predict the in vivo consequences of daidzein microbial metabolism for systemic exposure of the host to daidzein and its metabolite S-equol. The predictions reveal a dominant role for daidzein in ERα-mediated estrogenicity despite the higher estrogenic potency of its microbial metabolite S-equol.

Keywords: S-equol; daidzein; gut microbiota; in vitro-in silico strategy; physiologically based kinetic modeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't