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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #270613

Title: Epigenetics: a new bridge between nutrition and health

item Choi, S - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Friso, S - University Of Verona

Submitted to: Advances in Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2010
Publication Date: 11/2/2010
Citation: Choi, S.W., Friso, S. 2010. Epigenetics: a new bridge between nutrition and health. Advances in Nutrition. 1:8-16.

Interpretive Summary: Nutrients are known to interact with genes to maintain our health. Recently, the most highlighted mechanism is nutritional epigenetics, which may provide a better understanding of the interactions between nutrients and genes, as well as offer mechanisms by which nutrients can delay aging and the onset of aging related diseases. Epigenetics is a kind of genetic phenomenon that modifies gene function without altering gene sequence. Epigenetic phenomena, which are modifiable by nutrients, are critical for the embryonic development, aging and aging related diseases such as cancer. This review described how nutrients can affect our health through epigenetic mechanisms.

Technical Abstract: Nutrients can reverse or change epigenetic phenomena such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, thereby modifying the expression of critical genes associated with physiologic and pathologic processes, including embryonic development, aging, and carcinogenesis. It appears that nutrients and bioactive food components can influence epigenetic phenomena either by directly inhibiting enzymes that catalyze DNA methylation or histone modifications, or by altering the availability of substrates necessary for those enzymatic reactions. In this regard, nutritional epigenetics has been viewed as an attractive tool to prevent pediatric developmental diseases and cancer as well as to delay aging-associated processes. In recent years, epigenetics has become an emerging issue in a broad range of diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, inflammation, and neurocognitive disorders. Although the possibility of developing a treatment or discovering preventative measures of these diseases is exciting, current knowledge in nutritional epigenetics is limited, and further studies are needed to expand the available resources and better understand the use of nutrients or bioactive food components for maintaining our health and preventing diseases through modifiable epigenetic mechanisms.