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Urinary enterolactone associated with liver enzyme levels in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

  • Cheng Xu (a1) (a2), Qian Liu (a1) (a2), Qunwei Zhang (a3), Zhao-Yan Jiang (a4) and Aihua Gu (a1) (a2)...


Phyto-oestrogens are a family of plant-derived xeno-oestrogens that appear to have beneficial effects on human health. To date, no data are available about phyto-oestrogen consumption affecting liver health in a population. The present study aimed to explore the relationship of urinary phyto-oestrogen metabolites with serum liver enzymes in US adults. A nationally representative sample of US adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–10 was analysed. The cross-sectional study sample consisted of 6438 adults with data on urinary phyto-oestrogen levels, serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and γ-glutamyl transaminase (GGT) concentrations and data on other potential confounders. Multivariate logistic regression and linear regression were applied to assess associations between urinary phyto-oestrogen levels and ALT, AST, ALP and GGT concentrations. We found a remarkable association between urinary enterolactone and GGT in both adult males (OR 0·37, 95 % CI 0·22, 0·61; P= 0·003) and females (OR 0·37, 95 % CI 0·26, 0·54; P= 0·009). Moreover, elevated enterolactone levels were inversely associated with ALT and AST levels in adult males. However, no association was present between levels of urinary daidzein, O-desmethylangolensin, equol, enterodiol or genistein with liver enzyme levels in this population. The present study results provide epidemiological evidence that urinary enterolactone levels are associated with liver GGT levels in humans. This suggests a potential protective effect of enterolactone on human liver function. However, the underlying mechanisms still need further investigation.

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Corresponding author

* Corresponding authors: A. Gu, E-mail:; Z.-Y. Jiang, email


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