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J Proteome Res. 2013 Apr 5;12(4):1645-59. doi: 10.1021/pr300997c. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics for the discovery of biomarkers of fruit and vegetable intake: citrus fruit as a case study.

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  • 1INRA , UMR 1019, UNH, CRNH Auvergne, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Elucidation of the relationships between genotype, diet, and health requires accurate dietary assessment. In intervention and epidemiological studies, dietary assessment usually relies on questionnaires, which are susceptible to recall bias. An alternative approach is to quantify biomarkers of intake in biofluids, but few such markers have been validated so far. Here we describe the use of metabolomics for the discovery of nutritional biomarkers, using citrus fruits as a case study. Three study designs were compared. Urinary metabolomes were profiled for volunteers that had (a) consumed an acute dose of orange or grapefruit juice, (b) consumed orange juice regularly for one month, and (c) reported high or low consumption of citrus products for a large cohort study. Some signals were found to reflect citrus consumption in all three studies. Proline betaine and flavanone glucuronides were identified as known biomarkers, but various other biomarkers were revealed. Further, many signals that increased after citrus intake in the acute study were not sensitive enough to discriminate high and low citrus consumers in the cohort study. We propose that urine profiling of cohort subjects stratified by consumption is an effective strategy for discovery of sensitive biomarkers of consumption for a wide range of foods.

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