Identification of potential human urinary biomarkers for tomato juice intake by mass spectrometry-based metabolomics

  • Yannick Hövelmann
  • Annika Jagels
  • Robin Schmid
  • Florian Hübner
  • Hans-Ulrich HumpfEmail author
Original Contribution



Dietary biomarkers allow the accurate and objective determination of the dietary intake of humans and can thus be valuable for investigating the relation between consumption of foods and biochemical as well as physiological responses. The objective of this study was the identification of potential urinary biomarkers for consumption of tomato juice.


In the course of a dietary intervention study, the human urine metabolome of a study cohort was compared between a tomato-free diet and after intake of tomato juice by application of an LC-HRMS-based metabolomics approach. The data acquisition was achieved using an orbitrap mass spectrometer, followed by multistage data processing and univariate as well as multivariate statistical analysis to identify discriminating features.


Statistical analysis revealed several unique features detectable after tomato juice intake. The most discriminating markers were putatively identified as hydroxylated and sulfonated metabolites of esculeogenin B, aglycone of the steroidal glycoalkaloid esculeoside B recently found in tomato juice. Furthermore, the β-carboline alkaloids tangutorid E and F and glucuronidated derivatives thereof were identified in urine.


Steroidal glycoalkaloids in tomato juice are cleaved after ingestion, and hydroxylated and sulfonated metabolites of their aglycones might serve as urinary biomarkers for tomato juice intake. Similarly, β-carboline alkaloids and glucuronidated derivatives were identified as potential urinary biomarkers. Both the aglycones of the steroidal alkaloids and the β-carboline alkaloids might exhibit biological activities worth investigating.


Metabolomics Dietary biomarker Tomato β-Carboline alkaloids Steroidal alkaloids 







Fold change


Higher-energy collision induced dissociation


Heated electrospray ionization


High-resolution mass spectrometry


Liquid chromatography




Principal component analysis



The authors express their gratitude to Andrea Jansen and Steffen Lürwer for assistance in the course of isolation of the compounds.

Author contributions

YH, FH, and HUH were involved in the design of the human study. YH and FH were further responsible for the conduct of the latter. The metabolomics analysis was carried out by FH, RS, and YH, whereas AJ and YH were involved in the isolation of the described compounds. HUH was responsible for the study supervision. All authors contributed to the preparation of the manuscript and gave their approval to the final version.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

394_2019_1935_MOESM1_ESM.docx (237 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 237 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Food ChemistryWestfälische Wilhelms-Universität MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Inorganic and Analytical ChemistryWestfälische Wilhelms-Universität MünsterMünsterGermany

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