Decoding flavonoid metabolism: a closer look at plant-based diets

An international team of researchers led by Osaka Metropolitan University has elucidated the process by which the major flavonoids naringenin, apigenin, and genistein are metabolized in the body. These findings are fundamental in elucidating the correlation between the metabolism of flavonoids in the body and their potential health benefits.

Understanding how our bodies metabolize different flavonoids in our diets: typical foods that contain naringenin, apigenin and genistein and their chemical structural formulas

In a world where plant-based lifestyles are on the rise, the power of foods such as broccoli, celery, and tofu, which are rich in flavonoids, is becoming clearer. Flavonoids are phenolic compounds produced by plants that are essential for plant development and defense and have long been said to have therapeutic and preventive effects against cancer and heart disease. However, the exact process of how our bodies metabolize flavonoids remains unclear.

An international team of researchers led by visiting researcher Tsutomu Shimada and Professor Shigeo Takenaka of the Graduate School of Human Life and Ecology at Osaka Metropolitan University, has shed light on the mechanism of three major flavonoids - naringenin, apigenin and genistein - and the processes by which the body metabolizes them. Molecular docking analyses revealed that human enzymes modify flavonoids in a similar way to how plants modify flavonoids.

“The results of this research are fundamental in elucidating the correlation between the metabolism of flavonoids in the body and their potential health benefits,” explained Professor Takenaka.

Their findings were published in Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Other researchers on the paper are from: Osaka Institute of Public Health, Showa Pharmaceutical University, Konkuk University and Vanderbilt University.



About OMU 

Osaka Metropolitan University is the third largest public university in Japan, formed by a merger between Osaka City University and Osaka Prefecture University in 2022. OMU upholds "Convergence of Knowledge" through 11 undergraduate schools, a college, and 15 graduate schools. For more research news, visit or follow us on Twitter: @OsakaMetUniv_en, or Facebook


Published: 04 Dec 2023

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Rina Matsuki

3-3-138 Sugimoto, Sumiyoshi-ku,
Osaka 558-8585 JAPAN

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Title: Oxidation of Naringenin, Apigenin, and Genistein by Human Family 1 Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Comparison of Interaction of Apigenin with Human P450 1B1.1 and Scutellaria P450 82D.1
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.3c00229
Author: Haruna Nagayoshi, Norie Murayama, Vitchan Kim, Donghak Kim, Shigeo Takenaka, Hiroshi Yamazaki, F. Peter Guengerich, and Tsutomu Shimada
Publication date: October 2, 2023

Funding information:

This study was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI [18K11662] (to H.N.), [23K06217] (to H.Y.), and
[21K11649] (to S.T.), National Research Foundation of Korea [NRF-2019R1A2C1004722] (to D.K.), and United States Public Health Service [R01 GM118122] (to F.P.G.).