Changes in serum and urinary metabolomic profile after a dietary intervention in patients with irritable bowel syndrome

PLoS One. 2021 Oct 11;16(10):e0257331. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257331. eCollection 2021.


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a multi-faceted gastrointestinal disorder where food intake often triggers symptoms. Metabolomics may provide mechanistical insights to why responses to dietary modifications are diverse.

Objective: This study aimed to identify metabolite patterns related to dietary intake in patients with IBS, and to identify metabolites driving the separation between responders and non-responders to treatment.

Methods: Participants were randomized to a low fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharide and polyol (FODMAP) diet (LFD) or traditional IBS diet (TID) for four weeks. Fasting serum and urine samples pre- and post-intervention were analyzed using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics. Response to treatment was defined as a reduction in IBS severity scoring system (IBS-SSS) ≥50.

Results: Twenty-five individuals in the LFD (13 responders) and 28 in the TID (14 responders) were included in these post hoc analyses. In endpoint samples, significant decreases in polyols and glucose were seen in the LFD. Post-intervention samples revealed that LFD responders had significantly increased levels of 2-hydroxybuturate and decreased levels of glucose and pantothenic acid compared to non-responders. For the TID, only weak multivariate models were identified and a larger diversity in metabolite response compared to the LFD were noted.

Conclusions: In this study, metabolite patterns between individuals who responded well to an LFD compared to non-responders could be distinguished. This provides new hypotheses for mechanistic actions related to response to dietary modifications, but the results need to be validated in larger cohorts.

Clinical trial registration: This trial was registered at, registry number NCT02107625.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / blood
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diet therapy*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / urine
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult

Associated data


Grant support

This study was supported by funding from the Swedish Research Council (MS); Working Life and Welfare (FORTE)(MS); and by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Gothenburg (MS) The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.