Isotope dilution gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric method for the determination of isoflavonoids, coumestrol, and lignans in food samples

Anal Biochem. 1996 Jan 15;233(2):169-80. doi: 10.1006/abio.1996.0025.


We present a method for the quantitative determination of the phytoestrogens formononetin, biochanin A, daidzein, genistein, and coumestrol and simultaneously the lignans secoisolariciresinol (SECO) and matairesinol in plant-derived foods. These compounds are measured by isotope dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in the selected ion monitoring mode (ID/GC/MS/SIM) using synthesized deuterated internal standards for the correction of losses during the procedure. A three-step hydrolysis--a rehydration with distilled H2O, followed by enzymatic and acid hydrolysis--has been applied in order to convert the diphenolic glycosides into their respective aglycones. Purification and separation are carried out in two ion-exchange chromatographic steps followed by derivatization and GC-MS. The within-assay imprecision values vary 3.1-9.6% and the between-assay imprecision 7.0-21.2%. The mean recovery of authentic standards processed through the whole procedure varied from 95.5 to 105.5%. Values for some different food samples are presented. The simultaneous determination of the biologically most interesting phytoestrogens and lignans in foods has not been carried out previously and the method will be useful for screening of important foods in populations with different risk of cancer and coronary heart disease, and for metabolic studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anion Exchange Resins
  • Chromatography, Ion Exchange
  • Coumestrol / analysis*
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Food Analysis*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lignans / analysis*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Anion Exchange Resins
  • Flavonoids
  • Lignans
  • Coumestrol