UPLC-QTOF/MS metabolic profiling unveils urinary changes in humans after a whole grain rye versus refined wheat bread intervention

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Non-targeted urine metabolite profiling has not been previously exploited in the field of whole grain (WG) products. WG products, particularly rye, are important elements in a healthy Nordic diet. The aim of this study was to identify novel urinary biomarkers of WG rye bread (RB) intake in a randomised crossover study with RB versus refined wheat bread (WB).

Methods and results:

UPLC-QTOF/MS metabolite profiling was applied to urine from a 2 × 4 wk crossover intervention with RB versus WB in 20 subjects. Sixteen metabolites were revealed as major contributing biomarkers. The most discriminative metabolite after the cereal intervention was identified as 3-(3,5-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-propanoic acid sulphate, which was excreted to a higher extent after the RB versus WB intervention. Other alkylresorcinol metabolites were identified, as well as enterolactone glucuronide, azelaic acid, 2-aminophenol sulphate and its benzoxazinoid precursor 2,4-dihydroxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one. Our study also suggests that nitrogen-containing metabolites are other major markers. However, other methodologies will be needed to elucidate their final structure.


The present non-targeted metabolite profiling proved to be a useful approach to identify major urine metabolites discriminating RB intake from that of white wheat bread. Once validated these markers could help evaluate compliance to healthy Nordic diets.

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