IBS randomized study: FODMAPs alter bile acids, phenolic- and tryptophan metabolites, while gluten modifies lipids

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2023 Sep 1;325(3):R248-R259.doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00016.2023. Epub 2023 Jul 3.


Elise Nordin 1Per M Hellström 2Eddie Vuong 1Anton Ribbenstedt 1Carl Brunius 1Rikard Landberg 1


Author information

1Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.

2Department of Medical Sciences, Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Diet is considered a culprit for symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), although the mechanistic understanding of underlying causes is lacking. Metabolomics, i.e., the analysis of metabolites in biological samples may offer a diet-responsive fingerprint for IBS. Our aim was to explore alterations in the plasma metabolome after interventions with fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) or gluten versus control in IBS, and to relate such alterations to symptoms. People with IBS (n = 110) were included in a double-blind, randomized, crossover study with 1-wk provocations of FODMAPs, gluten, or placebo. Symptoms were evaluated with the IBS severity scoring system (IBS-SSS). Untargeted metabolomics was performed on plasma samples using LC-qTOF-MS. Discovery of metabolite alterations by treatment was performed using random forest followed by linear mixed modeling. Associations were studied using Spearman correlation. The metabolome was affected by FODMAP [classification rate (CR) 0.88, P < 0.0001], but less by gluten intake CR 0.72, P = 0.01). FODMAP lowered bile acids, whereas phenolic-derived metabolites and 3-indolepropionic acid (IPA) were higher compared with placebo. IPA and some unidentified metabolites correlated weakly to abdominal pain and quality of life. Gluten affected lipid metabolism weakly, but with no interpretable relationship to IBS. FODMAP affected gut microbial-derived metabolites relating to positive health outcomes. IPA and unknown metabolites correlated weakly to IBS severity. Minor symptom worsening by FODMAP intake must be weighed against general positive health aspects of FODMAP. The gluten intervention affected lipid metabolism weakly with no interpretable association to IBS severity. Registration: www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03653689.NEW & NOTEWORTHY In irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) affected microbial-derived metabolites relating to positive health outcomes such as reduced risk of colon cancer, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes, as shown in previous studies. The minor IBS symptom induction by FODMAP intake must be weighed against the positive health aspects of FODMAP consumption. Gluten affected lipids weakly with no association to IBS severity.

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