Comparative dietary sulfated metabolome analysis reveals unknown metabolic interactions of the gut microbiome and the human host

Free Radic Biol Med. 2020 Nov 20:160:745-754. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2020.09.006. Epub 2020 Sep 11.


The gut microbiome converts dietary compounds that are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and further metabolized by the human host. Sulfated metabolites are a major compound class derived from this co-metabolism and have been linked to disease development. In the present multidisciplinary study, we have investigated human urine samples from a dietary intervention study with 22 individuals collected before and after consumption of a polyphenol rich breakfast. These samples were analyzed utilizing our method combining enzymatic metabolite hydrolysis using an arylsulfatase and mass spectrometric metabolomics. Key to this study is the validation of 235 structurally diverse sulfated metabolites. We have identified 48 significantly upregulated metabolites upon dietary intervention including 11 previously unknown sulfated metabolites for this diet. We observed a large variation in subjects based on their potential to sulfate metabolites, which may be the foundation for classification of subjects as high and low sulfate metabolizers in future large cohort studies. The reported sulfatase-based method is a robust tool for the discovery of unknown microbiota-derived metabolites in human samples.

Keywords: Mass spectrometry; Metabolomics; Microbiome; Polyphenols; Sulfatase; Xenobiotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics
  • Sulfates


  • Sulfates