pH-adjusted solvent extraction and reversed-phase HPLC quantification of isoflavones from soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.)

Chi Heung Cho, Young Sung Jung, Tae Gyu Nam, Chan Su Rha, Min Ji Ko, Davin Jang, Hong Sik Kim, Dae Ok Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Soybeans, Glycine max (L.) Merr., are among the most important food crops worldwide. Isoflavones are major bioactive phytochemicals in soybeans, and have a variety of health benefits, including antioxidative, antiatherosclerotic, antiinflammatory, and weak estrogen-like effects. The isoflavone content and composition of soybeans vary according to the cultivar and the extraction solvent conditions. Therefore, we investigated the effects of three different solvent pHs (1.0, 5.5, and 10.0) on the isoflavone, total phenolic, and total flavonoid contents and antioxidant capacities of eight soybean cultivars developed in Korea. Twelve isoflavones in soybeans were efficiently separated and identified on a reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system. The percentage distribution of isoflavones measured by HPLC in the eight soybean cultivars at various extraction pHs decreased as follows: malonyl isoflavones (67.2% to 81.3%) > isoflavone glucosides (16.2% to 29.0%; as nonacylated form) > acetyl isoflavones (1.6% to 5.9%). The highest contents of isoflavone glucosides, malonyl derivatives, and acetyl derivatives were extracted at solvent pHs of 10.0, 1.0, and 5.5, respectively. The solvent extraction at pH 1.0 yielded a lower total isoflavone content than those at pHs 5.5 and 10.0. However, the highest total phenolic and flavonoid contents were extracted from soybeans at pH 1.0. Soybeans extracted at pH 10.0 displayed the highest antioxidant capacities in the 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) radical assay. Taken together, these results suggest that proper solvent pH adjustment is needed to maximize the extraction of targeted forms of isoflavones from soybeans. Practical Application: Soybeans contain a variety of bioactive compounds, including isoflavones, which function as antioxidants and weak phytoestrogens. Chemical and instrumental analyses can facilitate the selection of soybean cultivars with high amounts of isoflavones for soybean breeding and isoflavone-enriched product development. Proper solvent pH adjustment allows for the efficient extraction of high amounts of targeted isoflavone subgroups (acetyl and malonyl forms) from soybeans for functional food products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-681
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Food Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • antioxidant capacity
  • black soybean
  • malonyl isoflavone
  • simultaneous analysis
  • soybean cultivars


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