Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #283849

Title: Nutritional influences on epigenetics and age-related disease

item PARK, LARA - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item FRISO, SIMONETTA - University Of Verona
item CHOI, SANG WOON - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/28/2011
Publication Date: 2/16/2012
Citation: Park, L.K., Friso, S., Choi, S. 2012. Nutritional influences on epigenetics and age-related disease. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 71(1):75-83.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Nutritional epigenetics has emerged as a novel mechanism underlying gene–diet interactions, further elucidating the modulatory role of nutrition in aging and age-related disease development. Epigenetics is defined as a heritable modification to the DNA that regulates chromosome architecture and modulates gene expression without changes in the underlying base pair sequence, ultimately determining phenotype from genotype. DNA methylation and post-translational histone modifications are classical levels of epigenetic regulation. Epigenetic phenomena are critical from embryonic development through the aging process, with aberrations in epigenetic patterns emerging as aetiological mechanisms in many age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders. Nutrients can act as the source of epigenetic modifications and can regulate the placement of these modifications. Nutrients involved in one-carbon metabolism, namely folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, riboflavin, methionine, choline and betaine, are involved in DNA methylation by regulating levels of the universal methyl donor S-adenosylmethionine and methyltransferase inhibitor S-adenosylhomocysteine. Other nutrients and bioactive food components such as retinoic acid, resveratrol, curcumin, sulforaphane and tea polyphenols can modulate epigenetic patterns by altering the levels of S-adenosylmethionine and S-adenosylhomocysteine or directing the enzymes that catalyse DNA methylation and histone modifications. Aging and age-related diseases are associated with profound changes in epigenetic patterns, though it is not yet known whether these changes are programmatic or stochastic in nature. Future work in this field seeks to characterize the epigenetic pattern of healthy aging to ultimately identify nutritional measures to achieve this pattern.