Food & Health Lab

Foto Food & Health Lab

Lead researcher: Juan Carlos Espín

Research Center: Grupo de Calidad, Seguridad y Bioactividad de Alimentos Vegetales. Dep. Ciencia y Tec. Alimentos. CEBAS-CSIC (Murcia)

Phone: +34 968-39-6200; Ext 6344


Our objective is to investigate, from a holistic approach, the role of dietary polyphenols in the prevention of chronic-degenerative diseases. We want to understand the tremendous interindividual variability that we find in the metabolism and biological activity of polyphenols through the implication of genotype, ageing, sex, intestinal microbiota, obesity and various diseases. A central axis behind this variability is the existence of specific human metabolic phenotypes (metabotypes) derived from the microbiota, both by the singular metabolites that they produce and by the composition and functionality of said associated microbiota. We are currently investigating the association between specific metabotypes and intestinal dysbiosis as a predictive tool for obesity and diseases related to this dysbiosis.

Specifically, we aimed to:

    - Evaluate the metabolism and biological activity of polyphenols in cardiovascular diseases, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Parkinson's disease (clinical trials, experimental animals and cell cultures).
    - Characterise the two-way interaction between polyphenols and microbiota: Identification of new microbial metabolites and bacteria specifically involved in their synthesis.
    - Identify the metabolic profiling of polyphenols-derived metabolites in tumour tissues of patients for the correct design of mechanistic studies.
    - Evaluate the protection exerted by specific metabotypes of polyphenols associated with intestinal microbiota against cardiometabolic risk and cognitive impairment.


  • González-Sarrías, A.; García-Villalba, R.; Romo-Vaquero, M.; Alasalvar, C.; Örem, A.; Zafrilla, P.; Tomás-Barberán, F.A.; Selma, M.V.; Espín, J.C. Clustering according to urolithin metabotype explains the interindividual variability in the improvement of cardiovascular risk biomarkers in overweight-obese individuals consuming pomegranate: A randomised clinical trial. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 61: 5, 1600830; Doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201600830


  • Espín, J.C.; González-Sarrías, A.; Tomás-Barberán, F.A. (2017). The gut microbiota: a key factor in the therapeutic effects of (poly)phenols. Biochem. Pharmacol. 139:82-93


  • Selma, M.V.; González-Sarrías, A.; Salas-Salvadó, J.; Andrés-Lacueva, C.; Alasalvar, C.; Örem, A.; Tomás-Barberán, F.A.; Espín, J.C. (2018). The gut microbiota metabolism of pomegranate or walnut ellagitannins yields two urolithin-metabotypes that correlate with cardiometabolic risk biomarkers: comparison between normoweight, overweight-obesity and metabolic syndrome. Clin. Nutr. 37, 897-905.


  • Cortés-Martín, A.; García-Villalba, R.; González-Sarrías, A.; Romo-Vaquero, M.; Loria-Kohen, V.; Ramírez-de-Molina, V.; Tomás-Barberán, F.A.; Selma, M.V.; Espín, J.C. (2018). The gut microbiota urolithin metabotypes revisited: The human metabolism of ellagic acid is mainly determined by ageing. Food & Funct. 9, 4100-4106.


  • Romo-Vaquero, M.; Cortés-Martín, A.; Loria-Kohen, V.; Ramírez-de-Molina, A.; García-Mantrana, I.; Collado, M.C.; Espín, J.C.; Selma, M.V. (2019). Deciphering the human gut microbiome of urolithin metabotypes: association with enterotypes and potential cardiometabolic health implications. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2018, 63, e1800958. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201800958.


  • Ávila-Gálvez, M.A.; García-Villalba, R.; Martínez-Díaz, F.; Ocaña-Castillo, B.; Monedero-Saiz, T.; Torrecillas-Sánchez, A.; Abellán, B.; González-Sarrías, A.; Espín, J.C. (2019). Metabolic profiling of dietary polyphenols and methylxanthines in normal and malignant mammary tissues from breast cancer patients. Mol Nutr. Food Res. e1801239. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201801239.