• Contact mail:,
  • Group leader: Virginia García-Cañas
  • Twitter: @nutrimol

Group members

Research Staff

  • Virginia García Cañas (CT, CSIC)
  • Carolina Simó Ruiz (CT, CSIC)

Predoctoral Staff

  • Sergio Muñoz González
  • Álvaro Redondo del Río

Research summary

At present, the effects of food on health and disease cannot be understood without deep knowing on how these components work at a molecular level. The main objectives of the Molecular Nutrition and Metabolism Group (NUTRIMOL) are:

  1. The study of the biological activity and metabolism of food and its constituents in different physiological and pathological situations.
  2. To elucidate changes in metabolism and the molecular mechanisms underlying the bioactivity of these constituents.

For the development of our activities, we employ:

  • In vitro and ex vivo methodologies, molecular biology techniques and gastrointestinal simulations.
  • High-throughput omics and meta-omics technologies: (meta)-genomics, (meta)-transcriptomics and metabolomics:
    • Techniques of massive sequencing of long readings for the assembly and characterization of genomes/metagenomes and transcriptomes/metatranscriptomes in biological samples and in gastrointestinal simulation systems.
    • Targeted and non-targeted metabolomics analysis using techniques based on tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-QqQ) and high resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC-Q/TOF) in biological samples (serum, plasma, urine, tissues, feces, cell cultures, etc.) and from gastrointestinal simulation systems.
  • Bioinformatics workflows for the integration of (meta)genome, (meta)transcriptome and metabolome information with the aim of characterizing functional diversity and changes in microbiome function under different experimental conditions in biological samples and intestinal simulation systems.

Highlighted Recent Publications

  • C. Simó, T. Fornari, M.R. García-Risco, A. Peña-Cearra, L. Abecia, J. Anguita, H. Rodríguez, V. García-Cañas. Resazurin-based high-throughput screening method for the discovery of dietary phytochemicals to target microbial transformation of L-carnitine into trimethylamine, a gut metabolite associated with cardiovascular disease. Food and Function (2022) 13. (
  • C. Simó, V. García-Cañas. Dietary bioactive ingredients to modulate the gut microbiota-derived metabolite TMAO. New opportunities for functional food development. Food and Function (2020) 11, 6745. (
  • M.A. Pascual-Itoiz, A. Peña-Cearra, I. Martín-Ruiz, J.L. Lavín, C. Simó, H. Rodríguez, E. Atondo, J.M. Flores, A. Carreras-González, J. Tomás-Cortázar, D. Barriales, A. Palacios, V. García-Cañas, A. Pellón, A. Fullaondo, A.M. Aransay, R. Prados-Rosales, R. Martín, J. Anguita, L. Abecia. The mitochondrial negative regulator MCJ modulates the interplay between microbiota and the host during ulcerative colitis. Scientific Reports (2020) 10, 572.
  • V. García-Cañas, E. Aznar, C. Simó. Screening gut microbial trimethylamine production by fast and cost-effective capillary electrophoresis. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (2019) 411, 2697.
  • C. Simó,V. García-Cañas. Food Transcriptomics. An Overview. Reference Module in Food Science. 2019. Elsevier (2019), ISBN: 9780081005965.
  • C. Simó, V. García-Cañas. Food Metabolomics. An Overview. Reference Module in Food Science. Elsevier (2019), ISBN: 9780081005965.
  • V. García-Cañas, C. Simó. Acquiring metabolic profiles by mass spectrometry for in depth metabolic coverage. Nutrimetabonomics: Principles and Techniques. Royal Society of Chemistry (2018). ISBN: 9781782627777.

Recent Research Projects

  • Research on new food ingredients with modulating activity of gut microbial metabolism related with atherosclerosis development (AGL2017-89055-R)
    • Lead Researchers: Virginia García-Cañas and Carolina Simó
    • Duration: 2018-2021
  • Unequivocal and sensitive analysis of microbial metabolites in biological samples by LC-MS/MS
    • Lead Researcher: Carolina Simó
    • Duration: 2019-2022
  • Omic study of the impact of gut microbiota in neutrophil configuration in cancer development. Design of novel strategies of immunotherapy
    • Lead Researchers: Virginia García-Cañas y Carolina Simó
    • Duration: 2020-2021
  • Combined use of nanopore massive sequencing technology and bioinformatics tools for the integrative analysis of metagenomes and metatranscriptomes in intestinal simulation systems
    • Lead Researcher: Virginia García-Cañas
    • Duration: 2022-2023

Scientific-Technical Services

Short-chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) analysis by LC-MS/MS (pdf download)

Short-chain fatty acids are the main metabolites derived from bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber in the gut. They are used by the intestinal epithelium as an energy substrate to maintain their integrity and function. They are small monocarboxylic acids with a maximum number of 6 carbon atoms. Acetic acid (C2), propionic acid (C3), butyric acid (C4), isobutyric acid (C4), valeric acid (C5), isovaleric acid (C5) and caproic acid (C6), are the main SCFAs in the intestine.
In the laboratory we routinely analyze SCFAs in biological samples (serum/plasma, tissues and fecal samples) by LC-MS/MS with limits of quantification below 1 nmol/mL (0.01 nmol/mg feces).