WP3 - Food Intake Biomarker Classification and Validation

Led by Dr. Lars Ove Dragsted


The current pace of biomarker discovery and biomarker applications is higher than ever before due to the rapid development of ‘omics’ technologies and data collection. This rapid development may reshape future research in nutrition and health. In order to support this development there is a need to
  • develop ontologies for food, nutrition, and diet-related health areas.
  • develop a solid scheme for biomarker classification that will provide a well-defined ontology for the field in order to better understand the potential of biomarkers and to communicate their use and application.
  • introduce a general validation system based on standardized criteria for food intake biomarkers in order to develop them into trusted research tools according to their intended use. The validation criteria will include standard analytical quality control (chemical and biological stability, analytical performance, and inter-laboratory reproducibility) along with criteria related to biomarker kinetics (dose-response, time-response from single exposures, time-response from repeated exposures), plausibility for the actual foods, as well as robustness and reliability when applied in real life exposure. The validation has a dual purpose: (1) to estimate the current level of validation of candidate food intake biomarkers based on an objective and systematic approach, and (2) to pinpoint which additional studies are needed to provide full validation of each candidate food intake biomarker.
  • improve methods to systematically search both older and more recent literature for the best biomarkers for foods, food groups, and food constituents and to develop and support database systems to include updated information on the validity of biomarker measurements for different applications.
All of these aspects are addressed by the work of WP3 and the results will be published in a special issue of Genes and Nutrition by partners of the FoodBAll consortium.

For nine major food groups (Table 1) the FoodBAll consortium aims to:
  1. identify and evaluate existing putative intake biomarkers based on the literature,
  2. validate the more promising candidates using a coherent quality assessment scheme, and
  3. create a database including all suggestive food intake biomarkers along with their current level of validity for assessing exposure.
Wp3 figure 1 7d8f61b56d6c058b54b2a44c1f09ac6986228a8018294c4ba9dfc3c8da41bfef
Figure 1. A schematic overview of a framework supporting the development of dietary biomarkers
An ontology and a classification scheme serve as the tools to navigate the targeted class of biomarkers. For each specific class of biomarkers, a literature search would be conducted to provide reviews of the current state of knowledge on putative biomarkers. Putative biomarkers may also be identified by new explorative research. Candidate biomarkers are selected from the putative biomarkers by removing implausible entries based on literature. A validation scheme is applied on the candidate biomarkers to assess their validity by a defined set of criteria to identify the most promising candidate biomarkers as partially or fully validated for a specified use. Further validation studies may be used to systematically validate the best candidate biomarkers. All of the available information is shared in public databases to support further studies on the development of biomarkers.

Table 1. Principle foods and food groups investigated within WP3
Food Group and Related FoodsFood Group and Related Foods
Alcoholic Beverages (, , , , )
   Alcohol as such
   Beer
   Cider
   Dessert wine
   Red (and rose) wines
   White wine
   Whisky, cognac, gin, and other distillates

Food of animal origin (, , , , , , )
   Dairy Products
     Dairy products in general
     Dairy fat/butter
     Milk
     Fermented non-solid dairy products
     Cheeses
     Casein and whey protein
   Meat
     Meat in general
     White meat
     Pink meat
     Red meat
     Offal meat
     Processed meat
     Cooked and grilled meat
   Fish and Other Marine Food
     Fatty fish
     Lean fish (from the sea or from lakes)
     Crustaceans and mollusks
     Fish oil
   Eggs and Processed Eggs

Fruits and Vegetables
   Fruit (in a culinary sense) (, , , )
     Berries (strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, redcurrant, blueberry, cranberry, …)
     Pomes (apple, pear, quince)
     Grapes
     Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pomelo, clementine, mandarin orange)
     Banana
     Drupes (peach, apricot, nectarine, plum, cherry)
     Other tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi, guava, passion fruit, …)
     Other fruits (muskmelon, watermelon, persimmon, pomegranate, fig, …)
   Vegetables (, , , , , , )
     Cruciferous (cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
     Potato
     Root vegetables (carrot, turnip, parsnip, celeriac, radish, beetroot, salsify, cassava)
     Leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, endive, garden rocket)
     Fruit vegetables (egg plant, tomato, bell pepper)
     Gourds (pumpkin, cucumber, squash, zucchini)
     Allium vegetables (onion, garlic, shallot, chive, ramson)
     Other vegetables (asparagus, artichoke, leek, celery, …)

Cereals and Whole Grains (, , , , )
   Oat and processed oat products
   Barley and processed barley products
   Wheat and processed wheat products
   Rye and processed rye products
   Other grains and grain products
   Rice
   Sorghum
   Mixed cereal products
   Other cereals and whole grains
Nuts and Vegetable Oils (, , , )
   Nuts
     Walnuts
     Almonds*
     Hazel nuts
     Pistachio
     Macadamia nuts
     Peanuts*
     Brazil nuts
     Other nuts
   Oils
     Olive oil
     Sunflower oil
     Flaxseed oil
     Rapeseed oil

Legumes (, , )
   Peas
   Soy and misu products
   Lentils
   Chickpeas
   Beans

Spices and Herbs (, )
   Anise
   Basil
   Black pepper
   Caraway
   Chili pepper
   Cinnamon
   Clove
   Coriander
   Cumin
   Curcumin (Tumeric)
   Dill
   Fennel
   Fenugreek
   Ginger
   Lemongrass
   Marjoram
   Nutmeg
   Oregano
   Parsley
   Peppermint
   Rosemary
   Saffron
   Sage
   Spearmint
   Tarragon
   Thyme

Non-Alcoholic Beverages (, , , )
   Coffee
   Tea
   Low-calorie sweetener-containing beverages
   Sugar-sweetened beverages

Confectionary (, )
   Cocoa
   Chocolate
   Liquorice
   Sugar-based sweets (bonbons)
   Wine gums
   Other confectionary
  1. University of Copenhagen (DK)
  2. University of Barcelona (ES)
  3. AIRC (FR)
  4. University of Wageningen (NL)
  5. CRA-NUT (IT)
  6. Agroscope (CH)
  7. University of Alberta (CA)
  8. Ghent University (BE)
  9. University College of Dublin (IE)
  10. University of Eastern Finland (FI)
  11. INRA (FR)
  12. Fondazione Edmund Mach (IT)
  13. Technical University of Munich (DE)
  14. Max Rubner-Institut (DE)
  15. Chalmers University of Technology (SE)