Personalized Nutrition Using Microbial Metabolite Phenotype to Stratify Participants and Non-Invasive Host Exfoliomics Reveal the Effects of Flaxseed Lignan Supplementation in a Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial. Academic Article uri icon


  • High-fiber plant foods contain lignans that are converted to bioactive enterolignans, enterolactone (ENL) and enterodiol (END) by gut bacteria. Previously, we conducted an intervention study to gain mechanistic insight into the potential chemoprotective effects of flaxseed lignan supplementation (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside; SDG) compared to a placebo in 42 men and women. Here, we expand on these analyses to further probe the impact of the microbial metabolite phenotype on host gene expression in response to lignan exposure. We defined metabolic phenotypes as high- or low-ENL excretion based on the microbial metabolism of SDG. RNA-seq was used to assess host gene expression in fecal exfoliated cells. Stratified by microbial ENL excretion, differentially expressed (DE) genes in high- and low-ENL excreter groups were compared. Linear discriminant analysis using the ENL phenotypes identified putative biomarker combinations of genes capable of discriminating the lignan treatment from the placebo. Following lignan intervention, a total of 165 DE genes in high-ENL excreters and 1450 DE genes in low-ENL excreters were detected. Functional analysis identified four common upstream regulators (master genes): CD3, IFNG, IGF1 and TNFRSF1A. Our findings suggest that the enhanced conversion of flaxseed lignan to ENL is associated with a suppressed inflammatory status.

published proceedings

  • Nutrients

altmetric score

  • 2.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Mullens, D. A., Ivanov, I., Hullar, M., Randolph, T. W., Lampe, J. W., & Chapkin, R. S.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Mullens, Destiny A||Ivanov, Ivan||Hullar, Meredith AJ||Randolph, Timothy W||Lampe, Johanna W||Chapkin, Robert S

publication date

  • June 2022