Dietary isoflavones, capable of influencing reproductive parameters in domestic cats (Felis catus), have been detected in commercial diets fed to captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). However, the absorptive and metabolic capacity of cheetahs towards isoflavones has not yet been studied. Experiments were designed to describe the plasma concentration–time curve, metabolite profile, and urinary and fecal excretion of genistein and daidzein in cheetahs following consumption of isoflavones. Four adult cheetahs were administered a single oral bolus of genistein and daidzein, and five juvenile cheetahs consuming a milk replacer formula found to contain isoflavones were also included. Urine was collected from all animals, and blood and feces were also collected from adult cheetahs following isoflavone exposure. Samples were analyzed for isoflavone metabolite concentration by liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization–multiple reaction ion monitoring mass spectrometry and high-performance liquid chromatography. Sulfate conjugates were the primary metabolites detected of both genistein and daidzein (60–80% of total isoflavones present) in the plasma and urine of cheetahs. A smaller proportion of daidzein was detected as conjugates in the urine of juvenile cheetahs, compared to adult cheetahs. Other metabolites included unconjugated genistein and daidzein, O-desmethylangolensin, and dihydrodaidzein, but not equol. Only 33% of the ingested genistein dose, and 9% of daidzein, was detected in plasma from adult cheetahs. However, of the ingested dose, 67% of genistein and 45% of daidzein were detected in the feces of adults. This study revealed that cheetahs appear efficient in their conjugation of absorbed dietary isoflavones and only a small fraction of ingested dose is absorbed. However, the capacity of the cheetah to conjugate genistein and daidzein with sulfate moieties appears lower than reported in the domestic cat. This may confer greater opportunity for biologic activity of isoflavones in the cheetah than would be predicted from findings in the domestic cat. However, further investigation is required.
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