Lignan and isoflavonoid conjugates in human urine

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1995 Jan;52(1):97-103. doi: 10.1016/0960-0760(94)00146-d.


Lignans and isoflavonoids are two groups of diphenolic phytoestrogens of plant origin which have gained increasing interest because of their possible cancer protective properties. High excretion of these compounds occur in populations at low risk of breast, prostate and colon cancer consuming either high amounts of whole-grain (lignans and some isoflavonoids) or soy products (isoflavonoids and some lignans). We determined the pattern of conjugation of the phytoestrogens in four urine samples from vegetarian or semivegetarian women and in two samples from men. Seven compounds were investigated: enterodiol, enterolactone, matairesinol, diadzein, equol, genistein and O-desmethylangolensin. The fractions quantified are the free fraction, mono- and disulfate, as well as the mono-, di- and sulfoglucuronide fractions. For the fractionation and purification we used ion-exchange chromatography and the determination of the concentrations of each compound in all fractions was done by isotope dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GLC-MS) using deuterated internal standards of all diphenols. More than 60% of all compounds determined, occurred in the monoglucuronide fraction. Daidzein, enterodiol and equol are excreted to a relatively high extent as sulfoglucuronides and genistein as diglucuronide. We conclude that the general pattern of lignan and isoflavonoid conjugates in urine is similar to that of endogenous estrogens.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Estrogens / urine*
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / urine*
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glucuronates / urine
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / urine*
  • Lignans / urine*
  • Male
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters / urine


  • Estrogens
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP)
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Glucuronates
  • Isoflavones
  • Lignans
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters