Diosgenin is a pharmaceutical used for the synthesis of cortisone, progesterone, and other steroid products.
Diosgenin is made by hydrolysis of saponins, which are extracted from Dioscorea villosa, a plant which grows in North America. It is also present in a number of other plant species which mainly occur in North America. Extracts of Dioscorea villosa containing diosgenin are sold in a variety of pharmacy and health food stores because of their presumed ability to minimize post-menopausal symptoms. It is also thought to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, and to reduce high blood pressure.
It has a very low water solubility 0.02 mg/l, is very hydrophobic and is therefore expected in the marine environment to be mostly associated to organic matter, particles and sediments. It is also expected to have a high potential towards bioaccumulation. 
Environmental standards and legislation
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- Son IS, Kim JH, Sohn HY, Son KH, Kim JS, Kwon CS. 2007 Antioxidative and hypolipidemic effects of diosgenin, a steroidal saponin of yam (Dioscorea spp.), on high-cholesterol fed rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 Dec;71(12):3063-71. Epub 2007 Dec 7.
- Jayadev Raju, Jagan M.R. Patlolla, Malisetty V. Swamy and Chinthalapally V. Rao 2004 Diosgenin, a Steroid Saponin of Trigonella foenum graecum (Fenugreek), Inhibits Azoxymethane-Induced Aberrant Crypt Foci Formation in F344 Rats and Induces Apoptosis in HT-29 Human Colon Cancer Cells Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention Vol. 13, 1392-1398, August 2004
- Pim de Voogt and Bert van Hattum 2003 Critical factors in exposure modelling of endocrine active substances Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 75, Nos. 11–12, pp. 1933–1948, 2003
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