Recommendations for standardizing nomenclature for dietary (poly)phenol catabolites

Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Oct 1;112(4):1051-1068. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa204.


There is a lack of focus on the protective health effects of phytochemicals in dietary guidelines. Although a number of chemical libraries and databases contain dietary phytochemicals belonging to the plant metabolome, they are not entirely relevant to human health because many constituents are extensively metabolized within the body following ingestion. This is especially apparent for the highly abundant dietary (poly)phenols, for which the situation is compounded by confusion regarding their bioavailability and metabolism, partially because of the variety of nomenclatures and trivial names used to describe compounds arising from microbial catabolism in the gastrointestinal tract. This confusion, which is perpetuated in online chemical/metabolite databases, will hinder future discovery of bioactivities and affect the establishment of future dietary guidelines if steps are not taken to overcome these issues. In order to resolve this situation, a nomenclature system for phenolic catabolites and their human phase II metabolites is proposed in this article and the basis of its format outlined. Previous names used in the literature are cited along with the recommended nomenclature, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry terminology, and, where appropriate, Chemical Abstracts Service numbers, InChIKey, and accurate mass.

Keywords: dietary (poly)phenols; food/diet metabolome; microbial catabolites; nomenclature; phase II metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Isomerism
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage
  • Polyphenols / metabolism*
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • Polyphenols