Serum metabolites associated with wholegrain consumption using nontargeted metabolic profiling: a discovery and reproducibility study
Journal article, 2023

Purpose: To identify fasting serum metabolites associated with WG intake in a free-living population adjusted for potential confounders. Methods: We selected fasting serum samples at baseline from a subset (n = 364) of the prospective population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) cohort. The samples were analyzed using nontargeted metabolomics with liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC–MS). Association with WG intake was investigated using both random forest followed by linear regression adjusted for age, BMI, smoking, physical activity, energy and alcohol consumption, and partial Spearman correlation adjusted for the same covariates. Features selected by any of these models were shortlisted for annotation. We then checked if we could replicate the findings in an independent subset from the same cohort (n = 200). Results: Direct associations were observed between WG intake and pipecolic acid betaine, tetradecanedioic acid, four glucuronidated alkylresorcinols (ARs), and an unknown metabolite both in discovery and replication cohorts. The associations remained significant (FDR<0.05) even after adjustment for the confounders in both cohorts. Sinapyl alcohol was positively correlated with WG intake in both cohorts after adjustment for the confounders but not in linear models in the replication cohort. Some microbial metabolites, such as indolepropionic acid, were positively correlated with WG intake in the discovery cohort, but the correlations were not replicated in the replication cohort. Conclusions: The identified associations between WG intake and the seven metabolites after adjusting for confounders in both discovery and replication cohorts suggest the potential of these metabolites as robust biomarkers of WG consumption.




Dietary assessment

Nontargeted metabolomics


Stefania Noerman

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Food and Nutrition Science

University of Eastern Finland

Jyrki K. Virtanen

University of Eastern Finland

Marko Lehtonen

University of Eastern Finland

Carl Brunius

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Food and Nutrition Science

Kati Hanhineva

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Food and Nutrition Science

University of Turku

University of Eastern Finland

European Journal of Nutrition

1436-6207 (ISSN) 1436-6215 (eISSN)

Vol. 62 2 713-726

Subject Categories


Environmental Health and Occupational Health

Nutrition and Dietetics

Areas of Advance

Health Engineering





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