The latest list of publications from the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre with a brief summary. 

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Publication: Scientific Reports

Ottaviani JI, Fong R, Kimball J, Ensunsa JL, Gray N, Vogiatzoglou A, et al.

11 September 2019

Data from dietary intervention studies suggest that intake of (−)-epicatechin mediates beneficial vascular effects in humans. However, population-based investigations are required to evaluate associations between habitual intake and health and these studies rely on accurate estimates of intake, which nutritional biomarkers can provide.

Here, we evaluate a series of structurally related (−)-epicatechin metabolites (SREM), particularly (−)-epicatechin-3′-glucuronide, (−)-epicatechin-3′-sulfate and 3′-O-methyl-(−)-epicatechin-5-sulfate (SREMB), as flavan-3-ol and (−)-epicatechin intake. SREMB in urine proved to be a specific indicator of (−)-epicatechin intake, showing also a strong correlation with the amount of (−)-epicatechin ingested (R2: 0.86 (95% CI 0.8l; 0.92).

The median recovery of (−)-epicatechin as SREMB in 24 h urine was 10% (IQR 7–13%) and we found SREMB in the majority of participants of EPIC Norfolk (83% of 24,341) with a mean concentration of 2.4 ± 3.2 µmol/L.

Our results show that SREMB are suitable as biomarker of (−)-epicatechin intake. According to evaluation criteria from IARC and the Institute of Medicine, the results obtained support use of SREMB as a recovery biomarker to estimate actual intake of (−)-epicatechin.

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Publication: Journal of Nutritional Science

Foster E, Lee C, Imamura F, Hollidge SE, Westgate KL, Venables MC, et al.

30 August 2019

Online self-reported 24-h dietary recall systems promise increased feasibility of dietary assessment. Comparison against interviewer-led recalls established their convergent validity; however, reliability and criterion-validity information is lacking.

The validity of energy intakes (EI) reported using Intake24, an online 24-h recall system, was assessed against concurrent measurement of total energy expenditure (TEE) using doubly labelled water in ninety-eight UK adults (40–65 years). Accuracy and precision of EI were assessed using correlation and Bland–Altman analysis. Test–retest reliability of energy and nutrient intakes was assessed using data from three further UK studies where participants (11–88 years) completed Intake24 at least four times; reliability was assessed using intra-class correlations (ICC).

Compared with TEE, participants under-reported EI by 25 % (95 % limits of agreement −73 % to +68 %) in the first recall, 22 % (−61 % to +41 %) for average of first two, and 25 % (−60 % to +28 %) for first three recalls. Correlations between EI and TEE were 0·31 (first), 0·47 (first two) and 0·39 (first three recalls), respectively. ICC for a single recall was 0·35 for EI and ranged from 0·31 for Fe to 0·43 for non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES). Considering pairs of recalls (first two v. third and fourth recalls), ICC was 0·52 for EI and ranged from 0·37 for fat to 0·63 for NMES. EI reported with Intake24 was moderately correlated with objectively measured TEE and underestimated on average to the same extent as seen with interviewer-led 24-h recalls and estimated weight food diaries.

Online 24-h recall systems may offer low-cost, low-burden alternatives for collecting dietary information.

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Publication: PLOS ONE

Cullerton K, Adams J, Francis O, Forouhi N, White M.

22 August 2019

Key to scientific integrity is ensuring that research findings are considered credible by scientific peers, practitioners, policymakers and the public.

Industry sponsorship of nutritional research can result in bias and raises significant professional, public and media concern. Yet, there is no international consensus on how to prevent or manage conflicts of interest for researchers considering engaging with the food industry.

This study aimed to determine internationally agreed principles to guide interactions between population health researchers and the food industry to prevent or manage conflicts of interest. We used a two-stage, online Delphi study for researchers, and an online survey for stakeholders. High levels of agreement on principles were achieved for both groups (researchers 68%; stakeholders 65%). Highest levels of agreement were with principles concerning research methods and governance.

More contentious were principles that required values-based decision-making, such as determining which elements of the commercial sector are acceptable to interact with. These results provide the basis for developing internationally-agreed guidelines for population health researchers governing interactions with the food industry.

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Publication: Advances in Nutrition

Aljuraiban G, Gibson R, Oude Griep L, Okuda N, Steffen L, Van Horn L et al.

18 June 2019

Healthy dietary habits are the cornerstone of cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention.

Numerous researchers have developed diet quality indices to help evaluate and compare diet quality across and within various populations.

The availability of these new indices raises questions regarding the best selection relevant to a given population.

In this perspective, we critically evaluate a priori–defined dietary indices commonly applied in epidemiological studies of CVD risk and mortality.

A systematic literature search identified 59 observational studies that applied a priori–defined diet quality indices to CVD risk factors and/or CVD incidence and/or CVD mortality.

Among 31 different indices, these scores were categorized as follows: 1) those based on country-specific dietary patterns, 2) those adapted from distinct dietary guidelines, and 3) novel scores specific to key diet-related factors associated with CVD risk.

The strengths and limitations of these indices are described according to index components, calculation methods, and the application of these indices to different population groups. Also, the importance of identifying methodological challenges faced by researchers when applying an index are considered, such as selection and weighting of food groups within a score, since food groups are not necessarily equivalent in their associations with CVD.

The lack of absolute cutoff values, emphasis on increasing healthy food without limiting unhealthy food intake, and absence of validation of scores with biomarkers or other objective diet assessment methods further complicate decisions regarding the best indices to use.

Future research should address these limitations, consider cross-cultural and other differences between population groups, and identify translational challenges inherent in attempting to apply a relevant diet quality index for use in CVD prevention at a population level.

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Publication: The Journal of Endocrinology & Medicine

Martineau AR, Thummel KE, Wang Z, Jolliffe DA, Boucher BJ, Griffin SJ, et al.

14 June 2019

Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 have been hypothesized to exert differential effects on vitamin D metabolism.

The objective of this study was to compare the influence of administering vitamin D2 vs vitamin D3 on metabolism of vitamin D3.

The researchers measured baseline and 4-month serum concentrations of vitamin D3, in 52 adults randomized to receive a total of four oral bolus doses of 2.5 mg vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 over four months. Metabolite-to-parent compound ratios were calculated to estimate hydroxylase activity. Pairwise before vs after comparisons were made to evaluate effects of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 on metabolism of vitamin D. Mean postsupplementation metabolite-to-parent ratios were then compared between groups.

The researchers concluded that bolus-dose vitamin D2 is less effective than bolus-dose vitamin D3 in elevating total serum 25(OH)D concentration.

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Publication: Nutrients

Furse S, Koulman A.

20 May 2019

We tested the hypothesis that the lipid composition of infant formula is consistent between manufacturers, countries and target demographic. We developed techniques to profile the lipid and glyceride fraction of milk and formula in a high throughput fashion. Formula from principal brands in the UK (2017–2019; bovine-, caprine-, soya-based), the Netherlands (2018; bovine-based) and South Africa (2018; bovine-based) were profiled along with fresh British animal and soya milk and skimmed milk powder.

We found that the lipid and glyceride composition of infant formula differed by region, manufacturer and date of manufacture. The formulations within some brands, aimed at different target age ranges, differed considerably where others were similar across the range. Soya lecithin and milk lipids had characteristic phospholipid profiles. Particular sources of fat, such as coconut oil, were also easy to distinguish. Docosahexaenoic acid is typically found in triglycerides rather than phospholipids in formula.

The variety by region, manufacturer, date of manufacture and sub-type for target demographics lead to an array of lipid profiles in formula. This makes it impossible to predict its molecular profile. Without detailed profile of the formula fed to infants, it is difficult to characterise the relationship between infant nutrition and their growth and development.

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Publication: The Lancet

Forouhi NG, Unwin N

11 May 2019

Few, if any, would contest that diet and nutrition have a crucial and substantial impact on human health. But the devil is in the details. Common questions include: is there such a thing as an optimal diet? What is suboptimal? Which dietary components matter most? And given the necessity to take action on climate change and planetary health, what should the world eat?

The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) contributes towards answering these questions by estimating the burden of mortality and disability attributable to specific dietary risks, within a comparative risk assessment framework that currently considers 84 behavioural, environmental, occupational, and metabolic risks across 195 countries and territories.

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Publication: The Journal of Nutrition

Jannasch F, Kröger J, Agnoli C, Barricarte A, Boeing H, Cayssials V, et al.

24 April 2019

The aim of this study was to derive country-specific exploratory dietary patterns, investigate their association with type 2 diabetes incidence, and replicate diabetes-associated dietary patterns in other countries.

Dietary intake data were used, assessed by country-specific questionnaires at baseline of 11,183 incident diabetes cases and 14,694 subcohort members (mean age 52.9 y) from 8 countries, nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (mean follow-up time 6.9 y).

Exploratory dietary patterns were derived by principal component analysis. HRs for incident type 2 diabetes were calculated by Prentice-weighted Cox proportional hazard regression models. Diabetes-associated dietary patterns were simplified or replicated to be applicable in other countries. A meta-analysis across all countries evaluated the generalizability of the diabetes-association.

Only few country/center-specific dietary patterns (3 of 18) were statistically significantly associated with diabetes incidence in this multicountry European study population. One pattern, whose association with diabetes was confirmed across other countries, showed overlaps in the food groups potatoes and processed meat with identified diabetes-associated dietary patterns from other studies. The study demonstrates that replication of associations of exploratory patterns with health outcomes is feasible and a necessary step to overcome population-specificity in associations from such analyses.

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Publication: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Zheng J, Imamura F, Sharp SJ, Koulman A, Griffin JL, Mulligan AA, et al.

17 April 2019

Little is known about changes in blood fatty acid compositions over time and the correlates of any changes in a general population.

The aim of this study was to estimate changes in 27 individual plasma phospholipid fatty acids and fatty acid groups over time, and to identify potential correlates of these changes, using profiles from 722 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk Study, UK.

Changes in fatty acid levels were associated with consumption of different food groups. For example, a mean 100 g/d increase in fatty fish intake was associated with a 19.3% greater annual increase in marine n–3 PUFAs.

Even-chain SFAs and TFAs declined and marine n–3 PUFAs increased over time. These changes were partially explained by changes in dietary habits, and could potentially help interpret associations of baseline fatty acid composition with future disease risk.

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Publication: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Fretts AM, Imamura F, Marklund M, Micha R, Wu JHY, Murphy RA, et al.

15 April 2019

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Publication: International Journal of Obesity

White T, Westgate K, Hollidge S, Venables M, Olivier P, Wareham N,

2 April 2019

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Publication: Nature Medicine

Kaitlin H. Wade, Brian Y. H. Lam, Audrey Melvin, Warren Pan, Laura J. Corbin, David A. Hughes, Kara Rainbow, Jian-Hua Chen, Katie Duckett, Xiaoming Liu, Jacek Mokrosiński, Alexander Mörseburg, Sam Neaves, Alice Williamson, Chen Zhang, I. Sadaf Farooqi, Giles S. H. Yeo, Nicholas J. Timpson & Stephen O’Rahilly 

27 May 2021


Could a gene be the key why some of us carry extra fat? New research has found that one in every 340 people might carry a mutation in a single gene that makes them more likely to have a greater weight from early childhood and, by 18 years of age, they could be up to 30 pounds heavier with the excess weight likely to be mostly fat. Read the full story


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