Future prospects for dissecting inter-individual variability in the absorption, distribution and elimination of plant bioactives of relevance for cardiometabolic endpoints

Rikard Landberg*, Claudine Manach, Frederiek-Maarten Kerckhof, Anne-Marie Minihane, Rasha Noureldin M Saleh, Baukje De Roos, Francisco Tomas-Barberan, Christine Morand, Tom Van de Wiele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


PURPOSE: The health-promoting potential of food-derived plant bioactive compounds is evident but not always consistent across studies. Large inter-individual variability may originate from differences in digestion, absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME). ADME can be modulated by age, sex, dietary habits, microbiome composition, genetic variation, drug exposure and many other factors. Within the recent COST Action POSITIVe, large-scale literature surveys were undertaken to identify the reasons and extent of inter-individual variability in ADME of selected plant bioactive compounds of importance to cardiometabolic health. The aim of the present review is to summarize the findings and suggest a framework for future studies designed to investigate the etiology of inter-individual variability in plant bioactive ADME and bioefficacy.

RESULTS: Few studies have reported individual data on the ADME of bioactive compounds and on determinants such as age, diet, lifestyle, health status and medication, thereby limiting a mechanistic understanding of the main drivers of variation in ADME processes observed across individuals. Metabolomics represent crucial techniques to decipher inter-individual variability and to stratify individuals according to metabotypes reflecting the intrinsic capacity to absorb and metabolize bioactive compounds.

CONCLUSION: A methodological framework was developed to decipher how the contribution from genetic variants or microbiome variants to ADME of bioactive compounds can be predicted. Future study design should include (1) a larger number of study participants, (2) individual and full profiling of all possible determinants of internal exposure, (3) the presentation of individual ADME data and (4) incorporation of omics platforms, such as genomics, microbiomics and metabolomics in ADME and efficacy studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-36
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue numberSuppl 2
Early online date23 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

This article is based upon work from COST Action FA1403 POSITIVe (Interindividual variation in response to consumption of plant food bioactives and determinants involved) supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology; www.cost.eu). The authors also acknowledge all the partners involved in working group 1 of the COST Action POSITIVe.

Author contributions
RL, CM and TVdW conceived and drafted the manuscript. FMK, A-MM, RNMS and FT-B added specific sections and all the authors contributed with critical intellectual input, read and revised the final draft.

COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action FA1403 (2014–2018).


  • Plant bioactive compounds
  • Cardiometabolic
  • Inter-individual variation
  • personalized nutrition
  • Personalized nutrition
  • RISK


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