The Potential of Multi-Biomarker Panels in Nutrition Research: Total Fruit Intake as an Example

Aoife E McNamara, Janette Walton, Albert Flynn, Anne P Nugent, Breige A McNulty, Lorraine Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


Dietary and food intake biomarkers offer the potential of improving the accuracy of dietary assessment. An extensive range of putative intake biomarkers of commonly consumed foods have been identified to date. As the field of food intake biomarkers progresses toward solving the complexities of dietary habits, combining biomarkers associated with single foods or food groups may be required. The objective of this work was to examine the ability of a multi-biomarker panel to classify individuals into categories of fruit intake. Biomarker data was measured using H NMR spectroscopy in two studies: (1) An intervention study where varying amounts of fruit was consumed and (2) the National Adult Nutrition Survey (NANS). Using data from an intervention study a biomarker panel (Proline betaine, Hippurate, and Xylose) was constructed from three urinary biomarker concentrations. Biomarker cut-off values for three categories of fruit intake were developed. The biomarker sum cut-offs were ≤ 4.766, 4.766-5.976, >5.976 μM/mOsm/kg for 160 g fruit intake. The ability of the biomarker sum to classify individuals into categories of fruit intake was examined in the cross-sectional study (NANS) ( = 565). Examination of results in the cross-sectional study revealed excellent agreement with self-reported intake: a similar number of participants were ranked into each category of fruit intake. The work illustrates the potential of multi-biomarker panels and paves the way forward for further development in the field. The use of such panels may be key to distinguishing foods and adding specificity to the predictions of food intake.
Original languageEnglish
Article number577720
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Early online date14 Jan 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 14 Jan 2021


  • dietary assessment
  • dietary biomarkers
  • food intake
  • metabolomics
  • multi-biomarker panel
  • nutrition


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