Syringol metabolites as new biomarkers for smoked meat intake

Roland Wedekind, Pekka Keski-Rahkonen, Nivonirina Robinot, Vivian Viallon, Pietro Ferrari, Erwan Engel, Marie Christine Boutron-Ruault, Yahya Mahamat-Saleh, Francesca Romana Mancini, Tilman Kühn, Theron Johnson, Heiner Boeing, Manuela Bergmann, Anna Karakatsani, Antonia Trichopoulou, Heleni Peppa, Claudia Agnoli, Maria Santucci de Magistris, Domenico Palli, Carlotta SacerdoteRosario Tumino, Marc J. Gunter, Inge Huybrechts, Augustin Scalbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Processed meat intake is associated with a higher risk of colorectal and stomach cancers, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes and with higher mortality, but the estimation of intake of different processed meat products in this heterogeneous food group in epidemiological studies remains challenging. OBJECTIVE: This work aimed at identifying novel biomarkers for processed meat intake using metabolomics. METHODS: An untargeted, multi-tiered metabolomics approach based on LC-MS was applied to 33 meat products digested in vitro and secondly to urine and plasma samples from a randomized crossover dietary intervention in which 12 volunteers consumed successively 3 processed meat products (bacon, salami, and hot dog) and 2 other foods used as controls, over 3 consecutive days. The putative biomarkers were then measured in urine from 474 subjects from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cross-sectional study for which detailed 24-h dietary recalls and FFQs were available. RESULTS: Syringol and 4 derivatives of syringol were found to be characteristic of in vitro digests of smoked meat products. The same compounds present as sulfate esters in urine increased at 2 and 12 h after consumption of smoked meat products (hot dog, bacon) in the intervention study. The same syringol sulfates were also positively associated with recent or habitual consumption of smoked meat products in urine samples from participants of the EPIC cross-sectional study. These compounds showed good discriminative ability for smoked meat intake with receiver operator characteristic areas under the curve ranging from 0.78 to 0.86 and 0.74 to 0.79 for short-term and habitual intake, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Four novel syringol sulfates were identified as potential biomarkers of smoked meat intake and may be used to improve assessment of smoked meat intake in epidemiological studies. This trial was registered at as NCT03354130.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1424-1433
Number of pages10
JournalThe American journal of clinical nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019


  • dietary biomarkers
  • metabolomics
  • processed meat
  • smoked meat
  • syringol
  • syringol sulfate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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