Urinary excretion of select dietary polyphenol metabolites is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in proximate but not remote follow-up in a prospective investigation in 2 cohorts of US women

Qi Sun (Lead Author), Nicole M. Wedick, Shelley S. Tworoger, An Pan, Mary K. Townsend, Aedin Cassidy, Adrian A. Franke, Eric B. Rimm, Frank B. Hu, Rob M. van Dam

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47 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Polyphenols are phytochemicals that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and improve glucose metabolism in animal experiments, although data from prospective epidemiologic studies examining polyphenol intakes in relation to type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk are inconsistent.

Objectives: We examined urinary excretion of select flavonoid and phenolic acid metabolites, as biomarkers of intake, in relation to T2D risk.

Methods: Eight polyphenol metabolites (naringenin, hesperetin, quercetin, isorhamnetin, catechin, epicatechin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid) were quantified in spot urine samples by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry among 1111 T2D case-control pairs selected from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and NHSII.

Results: Higher urinary excretion of hesperetin was associated with a lower T2D risk after multivariate adjustment: the OR comparing top vs. bottom quartiles was 0.68 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.96), although a linear trend was lacking (P = 0.30). The other measured polyphenols were not significantly associated with T2D risk after multivariate adjustment. However, during the early follow-up period [≤4.6 y (median) since urine sample collection], markers of flavanone intakes (naringenin and hesperetin) and flavonol intakes (quercetin and isorhamnetin) were significantly associated with a lower T2D risk. The ORs (95% CIs) comparing extreme quartiles were 0.61 (0.39, 0.98; P-trend: 0.03) for total flavanones and 0.55 (0.33, 0.92; P-trend: 0.04) for total flavonols (P-interaction with follow-up length: ≤0.04). An inverse association was also observed for caffeic acid during early follow-up only: the OR was 0.52 (95% CI: 0.32, 0.84; P-trend: 0.03). None of these markers was associated with T2D risk during later follow-up. Metabolites of flavan-3-ols and ferulic acid were not associated with T2D risk in either period.

Conclusions:These results suggest that specific flavonoid subclasses, including flavanones and flavonols, as well as caffeic acid, are associated with a lower T2D risk in relatively short-term follow-up but not during longer follow-up. Substantial within-person variability of the metabolites in single spot urine samples may limit the ability to capture associations with long-term disease risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1288
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
Early online date22 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • diabetes
  • nutrition
  • polyphenol
  • urinary biomarker
  • women

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