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Jenkinson, Carl; Petroczi, Andrea; Naughton, Declan P (2012)
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal: Nutrition Journal
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Nutritional diseases. Deficiency diseases, Medicine (miscellaneous), Red wine, TX341-641, Testosterone, Research, UGT2B17, alliedhealth, Nutrition. Foods and food supply, RC620-627, Flavonoids, Nutrition and Dietetics, Glucuronidation



The metabolism and excretion of the anabolic steroid testosterone occurs by glucuronidation to the conjugate testosterone glucuronide which is then excreted in urine. Alterations in UGT glucuronidation enzyme activity could alter the rate of testosterone excretion and thus its bioavailability. The aim of this study is to investigate if red wine, a common dietary substance, has an inhibitory effect on UGT2B17.


Testosterone glucuronidation was assayed using human UGT2B17 supersomes with quantification of unglucuronidated testosterone over time using HPLC with DAD detection. The selected red wine was analyzed using HPLC; and the inhibitory effects of the wine and phenolic components were tested independently in a screening assay. Further analyses were conducted for the strongest inhibitors at physiologically relevant concentrations. Control experiments were conducted to determine the effects of the ethanol on UGT2B17.


Over the concentration range of 2 to 8%, the red wine sample inhibited the glucuronidation of testosterone by up to 70% over 2 hours. The ethanol content had no significant effect. Three red wine phenolics, identified by HPLC analyses, also inhibited the enzyme by varying amounts in the order of quercetin (72%), caffeic acid (22%) and gallic acid (9%); using a ratio of phenolic:testosterone of 1:2.5. In contrast p-coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid had no effect on the UGT2B17. The most active phenolic was selected for a detailed study at physiologically relevant concentrations, and quercetin maintained inhibitory activity of 20% at 2 μM despite a ten-fold excess of testosterone.


This study reports that in an in vitro supersome-based assay, the key steroid-metabolizing enzyme UGT2B17 is inhibited by a number of phenolic dietary substances and therefore may reduce the rate of testosterone glucuronidation in vivo. These results highlight the potential interactions of a number of common dietary compounds on testosterone metabolism. Considering the variety of foodstuffs that contain flavonoids, it is feasible that diet can elevate levels of circulating testosterone through reduction in urinary excretion. These results warrant further investigation and extension to a human trial to delineate the health implications.

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