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.


Cortés-Martín A, García-Villalba R, García-Mantrana I, Rodríguez-Varela A, Romo-Vaquero M, Collado MC, Tomás-Barberán FA, Espín JC, Selma MV. Urolithins in Human Breast Milk after Walnut Intake and Kinetics of Gordonibacter Colonization in Newly Born: The Role of Mothers' Urolithin Metabotypes.J Agric Food Chem. 2020 Nov 11;68(45):12606-12616. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.0c04821. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

 Iglesias-Aguirre CE, Cortés-Martín A, Ávila-Gálvez MÁ, Giménez-Bastida JA, Selma MV, González-Sarrías A, Espín JC. Main drivers of (poly)phenol effects on human health: metabolite production and/or gut microbiota-associated metabotypes?Food Funct. 2021 Sep 24. doi: 10.1039/d1fo02033a.

 Cortés-Martín A, Iglesias-Aguirre CE, Meoro A, Selma MV, Espín JC. Pharmacological Therapy Determines the Gut Microbiota Modulation by a Pomegranate Extract Nutraceutical in Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2021 Mar;65(6):e2001048. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.202001048. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

Giménez-Bastida JA, González-Sarrías A, Laparra-Llopis JM, Schneider C, Espín JC. Targeting Mammalian 5-Lipoxygenase by Dietary Phenolics as an Anti-Inflammatory Mechanism: A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 25;22(15):7937. doi: 10.3390/ijms22157937.

 Barber C, Mego M, Sabater C, Vallejo F, Bendezu RA, Masihy M, Guarner F, Espín JC, Margolles A, Azpiroz F. Differential Effects of Western and Mediterranean-Type Diets on Gut Microbiota: A Metagenomics and Metabolomics Approach. Nutrients. 2021 Jul 30;13(8):2638. doi: 10.3390/nu13082638.

Ávila-Gálvez MÁ, Giménez-Bastida JA, González-Sarrías A, Espín JC. New Insights into the Metabolism of the Flavanones Eriocitrin and Hesperidin: A Comparative Human Pharmacokinetic Study. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Mar 11;10(3):435. doi: 10.3390/antiox10030435.

Ávila-Gálvez MÁ, González-Sarrías A, Martínez-Díaz F, Abellán B, Martínez-Torrano AJ, Fernández-López AJ, Giménez-Bastida JA, Espín JC. Disposition of Dietary Polyphenols in Breast Cancer Patients' Tumors, and Their Associated Anticancer Activity: The Particular Case of Curcumin. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2021 Jun;65(12):e2100163. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.202100163. Epub 2021 May 10.

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.