Genistein, a soybean-derived isoflavone, is thought to have an anticarcinogenic action, but little is known about the cellular mechanisms of its intestinal absorption. This study was designed to investigate the absorption mechanisms of genistein using human colon carcinoma cell line, Caco-2 cells. The apical-to-basolateral transcellular transport of genistein across a Caco-2 cell monolayer was significantly greater than that in the opposite direction. An uptake experiment revealed that cellular uptake of genistein by Caco-2 cells was concentrative. The transcellular transport of genistein was saturable and temperature-dependent, and was inhibited by other flavonoids such as rutin, quercetin, (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin. These results suggest that genistein is transported across Caco-2 cells by a carrier-mediated system, located on the apical membrane.
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