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The impact of equol-producing status in modifying the effect of soya isoflavones on risk factors for CHD: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials

  • Rahel L. Birru (a1), Vasudha Ahuja (a1), Abhishek Vishnu (a2), Rhobert W. Evans (a1), Yoshihiro Miyamoto (a3), Katsuyuki Miura (a4), Takeshi Usui (a5) and Akira Sekikawa (a1)...

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that the ability to produce equol, a metabolite of the soya isoflavone daidzein, is beneficial to coronary health. Equol, generated by bacterial action on isoflavones in the human gut, is biologically more potent than dietary sources of isoflavones. Not all humans are equol producers. We investigated whether equol-producing status is favourably associated with risk factors for CHD following an intervention by dietary soya isoflavones. We systematically reviewed randomised controlled trials (RCT) that evaluated the effect of soya isoflavones on risk factors for CHD and that reported equol-producing status. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, Ovid Medline and the Cochrane Central Register for Controlled Trials published up to April 2015 and hand-searched bibliographies to identify the RCT. Characteristics of participants and outcomes measurements were extracted and qualitatively analysed. From a total of 1671 studies, we identified forty-two articles that satisfied our search criteria. The effects of equol on risk factors for CHD were mainly based on secondary analyses in these studies, thus with inadequate statistical power. Although fourteen out of the forty-two studies found that equol production after a soya isoflavone intervention significantly improved a range of risk factors including cholesterol and other lipids, inflammation and blood pressure variables, these results need further verification by sufficiently powered studies. The other twenty-eight studies primarily reported null results. RCT of equol, which has recently become available as a dietary supplement, on CHD and its risk factors are awaited.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: A. Sekikawa, email akira@pitt.edu

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