Validation of biomarkers of food intake-critical assessment of candidate biomarkers

Genes Nutr. 2018 May 30;13:14. doi: 10.1186/s12263-018-0603-9. eCollection 2018.


Biomarkers of food intake (BFIs) are a promising tool for limiting misclassification in nutrition research where more subjective dietary assessment instruments are used. They may also be used to assess compliance to dietary guidelines or to a dietary intervention. Biomarkers therefore hold promise for direct and objective measurement of food intake. However, the number of comprehensively validated biomarkers of food intake is limited to just a few. Many new candidate biomarkers emerge from metabolic profiling studies and from advances in food chemistry. Furthermore, candidate food intake biomarkers may also be identified based on extensive literature reviews such as described in the guidelines for Biomarker of Food Intake Reviews (BFIRev). To systematically and critically assess the validity of candidate biomarkers of food intake, it is necessary to outline and streamline an optimal and reproducible validation process. A consensus-based procedure was used to provide and evaluate a set of the most important criteria for systematic validation of BFIs. As a result, a validation procedure was developed including eight criteria, plausibility, dose-response, time-response, robustness, reliability, stability, analytical performance, and inter-laboratory reproducibility. The validation has a dual purpose: (1) to estimate the current level of validation of candidate biomarkers of food intake based on an objective and systematic approach and (2) to pinpoint which additional studies are needed to provide full validation of each candidate biomarker of food intake. This position paper on biomarker of food intake validation outlines the second step of the BFIRev procedure but may also be used as such for validation of new candidate biomarkers identified, e.g., in food metabolomic studies.

Keywords: Assessment of food intake; Biomarker; Metabolomics; Nutrition; Review; Validation.

Publication types

  • Review