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Single-dose and steady-state pharmacokinetic studies of S-equol, a potent nonhormonal, estrogen receptor β-agonist being developed for the treatment of menopausal symptoms

Jackson, Richard L. PhD1; Greiwe, Jeffrey S. PhD1; Desai, Pankaj B. PhD2; Schwen, Richard J. PhD1

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181e9779c

Objective: S-equol is produced from the biotransformation of the soy isoflavone daidzein. Clinical trials have shown that being an equol producer reduces menopausal symptoms. As part of a drug development program, S-equol was synthesized in pure form. In this report, we describe its safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics.

Methods: Two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials were carried out in healthy volunteers: a single-rising dose (10-320 mg) study in 61 participants and a 14-day multirising dose (10-160 mg, BID) study in 40 participants.

Results: S-equol was well tolerated by all participants; there were no significant drug-related adverse events. S-equol was rapidly absorbed, with time of peak plasma concentration (T max) ranging from 1.5 to 3 hours after a single dose. Less than 1% of total S-equol in plasma appeared as the unconjugated form, the majority being conjugated forms of S-equol. Plasma area under the curve (AUC) and maximum concentration (C max) increased proportionally with dose. At the 20-mg single dose, a crossover study showed that food intake significantly decreased C max but not AUC for total S-equol; C max and AUC of unconjugated S-equol were not significantly affected.

Conclusions: These studies in healthy participants establish the first report on the plasma and urine levels of unconjugated S-equol after oral dosing. The rapid absorption and pharmacokinetic parameters show that S-equol exposure is linear with dose. There were no significant drug-related adverse events even at the highest dose tested of 320 mg; these data provide the information for dose selection for efficacy studies in postmenopausal women.

Results from single-dose and 14-day repeat dose phase 1 clinical trials demonstrate the safety of S-equol in men and women up to the highest doses tested in these studies. Maximum Concentration (Cmax) and area under the curve (AUC) for unconjugated and total S-equol were linear with dose, with steady state achieved after 2 days of twice-daily dosing.

From the 1Ausio Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Cincinnati, OH; and 2College of Pharmacy, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.

Received April 23, 2010; revised and accepted May 24, 2010.

Funding/support: The study was funded by Ausio Pharmaceuticals, LLC.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: R.L.J. and R.J.S. hold equity in Ausio Pharmaceuticals, LLC.

Address correspondence to: Richard J. Schwen, PhD, Ausio Pharmaceuticals, LLC, 1776 Mentor Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45212. E-mail:

©2011The North American Menopause Society