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2.  Efficacy and Feasibility of the Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM) Immunomagnetic Cell Sorter for Studies of DNA Methylation in Colorectal Cancer 
The aim of this work was to assess the impact on measurements of methylation of a panel of four cancer gene promoters of purifying tumor cells from colorectal tissue samples using the epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM)-immunomagnetic cell enrichment approach. We observed that, on average, methylation levels were higher in enriched cell fractions than in the whole tissue, but the difference was significant only for one out of four studied genes. In addition, there were strong correlations between methylation values for individual samples of whole tissue and the corresponding enriched cell fractions. Therefore, assays on whole tissue are likely to provide reliable estimates of tumor-specific methylation of cancer genes. However, tumor cell tissue separation using immunomagnetic beads could, in some cases, give a more accurate value of gene promoter methylation than the analysis of the whole cancer tissue, although relatively expensive and time-consuming. The efficacy and feasibility of the immunomagnetic cell sorting for methylation studies are discussed.
doi:10.3390/ijms15010044
PMCID: PMC3907797  PMID: 24362576
DNA methylation; epigenetics; epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM); immunomagnetic enrichment; colon cancer; pyrosequencing
3.  Comparison of Methods for Quantification of Global DNA Methylation in Human Cells and Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79044.
DNA methylation is a key epigenetic modification which, in mammals, occurs mainly at CpG dinucleotides. Most of the CpG methylation in the genome is found in repetitive regions, rich in dormant transposons and endogenous retroviruses. Global DNA hypomethylation, which is a common feature of several conditions such as ageing and cancer, can cause the undesirable activation of dormant repeat elements and lead to altered expression of associated genes. DNA hypomethylation can cause genomic instability and may contribute to mutations and chromosomal recombinations. Various approaches for quantification of global DNA methylation are widely used. Several of these approaches measure a surrogate for total genomic methyl cytosine and there is uncertainty about the comparability of these methods. Here we have applied 3 different approaches (luminometric methylation assay, pyrosequencing of the methylation status of the Alu repeat element and of the LINE1 repeat element) for estimating global DNA methylation in the same human cell and tissue samples and have compared these estimates with the “gold standard” of methyl cytosine quantification by HPLC. Next to HPLC, the LINE1 approach shows the smallest variation between samples, followed by Alu. Pearson correlations and Bland-Altman analyses confirmed that global DNA methylation estimates obtained via the LINE1 approach corresponded best with HPLC-based measurements. Although, we did not find compelling evidence that the gold standard measurement by HPLC could be substituted with confidence by any of the surrogate assays for detecting global DNA methylation investigated here, the LINE1 assay seems likely to be an acceptable surrogate in many cases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079044
PMCID: PMC3832524  PMID: 24260150
4.  Influence of DNMT Genotype on Global and Site Specific DNA Methylation Patterns in Neonates and Pregnant Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76506.
This study examines the relationship between common genetic variation within DNA methyltransferase genes and inter-individual variation in DNA methylation. Eleven polymorphisms spanning DNMT1 and DNMT3B were genotyped. Global and gene specific (IGF2, IGFBP3, ZNT5) DNA methylation was quantified by LUMA and bisulfite Pyrosequencing assays, respectively, in neonatal cord blood and in maternal peripheral blood. Associations between maternal genotype and maternal methylation (n ≈ 333), neonatal genotype and neonatal methylation (n ≈ 454), and maternal genotype and neonatal methylation (n ≈ 137) were assessed. The findings of this study provide some support to the hypothesis that genetic variation in DNA methylating enzymes influence DNA methylation at global and gene-specific levels; however observations were not robust to correction for multiple testing. More comprehensive analysis of the influence of genetic variation on global and site specific DNA methylation is warranted.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076506
PMCID: PMC3788139  PMID: 24098518
5.  Online Dietary Intake Estimation: The Food4Me Food Frequency Questionnaire 
Background
Dietary assessment methods are important tools for nutrition research. Online dietary assessment tools have the potential to become invaluable methods of assessing dietary intake because, compared with traditional methods, they have many advantages including the automatic storage of input data and the immediate generation of nutritional outputs.
Objective
The aim of this study was to develop an online food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) for dietary data collection in the “Food4Me” study and to compare this with the validated European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) Norfolk printed FFQ.
Methods
The Food4Me FFQ used in this analysis was developed to consist of 157 food items. Standardized color photographs were incorporated in the development of the Food4Me FFQ to facilitate accurate quantification of the portion size of each food item. Participants were recruited in two centers (Dublin, Ireland and Reading, United Kingdom) and each received the online Food4Me FFQ and the printed EPIC-Norfolk FFQ in random order. Participants completed the Food4Me FFQ online and, for most food items, participants were requested to choose their usual serving size among seven possibilities from a range of portion size pictures. The level of agreement between the two methods was evaluated for both nutrient and food group intakes using the Bland and Altman method and classification into quartiles of daily intake. Correlations were calculated for nutrient and food group intakes.
Results
A total of 113 participants were recruited with a mean age of 30 (SD 10) years (40.7% male, 46/113; 59.3%, 67/113 female). Cross-classification into exact plus adjacent quartiles ranged from 77% to 97% at the nutrient level and 77% to 99% at the food group level. Agreement at the nutrient level was highest for alcohol (97%) and lowest for percent energy from polyunsaturated fatty acids (77%). Crude unadjusted correlations for nutrients ranged between .43 and .86. Agreement at the food group level was highest for “other fruits” (eg, apples, pears, oranges) and lowest for “cakes, pastries, and buns”. For food groups, correlations ranged between .41 and .90.
Conclusions
The results demonstrate that the online Food4Me FFQ has good agreement with the validated printed EPIC-Norfolk FFQ for assessing both nutrient and food group intakes, rendering it a useful tool for ranking individuals based on nutrient and food group intakes.
doi:10.2196/jmir.3105
PMCID: PMC4071230  PMID: 24911957
food frequency questionnaire; online dietary assessment tool; Food4Me; dietary assessment; Web-based
6.  Do we know enough? A scientific and ethical analysis of the basis for genetic-based personalized nutrition 
Genes & Nutrition  2013;8(4):373-381.
This article discusses the prospects and limitations of the scientific basis for offering personalized nutrition advice based upon individual genetic information. Two divergent scientific positions are presented, with an ethical comment. The crucial question is whether the current knowledge base is sufficiently strong for taking an ethically responsible decision to offer personalized nutrition advice based upon gene–diet–health interaction. According to the first position, the evidence base for translating the outcomes of nutrigenomics research into personalized nutritional advice is as yet immature. There is also limited evidence that genotype-based dietary advice will motivate appropriate behavior changes. Filling the gaps in our knowledge will require larger and better randomized controlled trials. According to the second position, personalized nutrition must be evaluated in relation to generally accepted standard dietary advice—partly derived from epidemiological observations and usually not proven by clinical trials. With personalized nutrition, we cannot demand stronger evidence. In several specific cases of gene–diet interaction, it may be more beneficial for individuals with specific genotypes to follow personalized advice rather than general dietary recommendations. The ethical comment, finally, considers the ethical aspects of deciding how to proceed in the face of such uncertainty. Two approaches for an ethically responsible way forward are proposed. Arguing from a precautionary approach, it is suggested that personalized dietary advice should be offered only when there is strong scientific evidence for health effects, followed by stepwise evaluation of unforeseen behavioral and psychological effects. Arguing from theoretical and applied ethics as well as psychology, it is also suggested that personalized advice should avoid paternalism and instead focus on supporting the autonomous choice of each person.
doi:10.1007/s12263-013-0338-6
PMCID: PMC3689893  PMID: 23471854
Ethics; Personalized nutrition; Nutrigenetics; Evidence; Paternalism; Autonomy
7.  Multigenerational Epigenetic Adaptation of the Hepatic Wound-Healing Response 
Nature medicine  2012;18(9):1369-1377.
We asked if ancestral liver damage leads to heritable reprogramming of hepatic wound-healing. We discovered that male rats with a history of liver damage transmit epigenetic suppressive adaptation of the fibrogenic component of wound-healing through male F1 and F2 generations. Underlying this adaptation was reduced generation of liver myofibroblasts, increased hepatic expression of antifibrogenic PPAR-γ and decreased expression of profibrogenic TGF-β1. Remodelling of DNA methylation and histone acetylation underpinned these alterations in gene expression. Sperm from rats with liver fibrosis were enriched for H2A.Z and H3K27me3 at PPAR-γ chromatin. These sperm chromatin modifications were transmittable by adaptive serum transfer from fibrotic rats and were induced in stem cells exposed to myofibroblast-conditioned media. A myofibroblast secreted soluble factor therefore stimulates heritable epigenetic signatures to sperm so as to adapt fibrogenesis in offspring. Humans with mild liver fibrosis display PPAR-γ promoter hypomethylation compared with severe fibrotics, thus lending support for epigenetic regulation of fibrosis.
doi:10.1038/nm.2893
PMCID: PMC3489975  PMID: 22941276
8.  Postnatal Growth and DNA Methylation Are Associated With Differential Gene Expression of the TACSTD2 Gene and Childhood Fat Mass 
Diabetes  2012;61(2):391-400.
Rapid postnatal growth is associated with increased risk of childhood adiposity. The aim of this study was to establish whether this pathway is mediated by altered DNA methylation and gene expression. Two distinct cohorts, one preterm (n = 121) and one term born (n = 6,990), were studied. Exploratory analyses were performed using microarrays to identify differentially expressed genes in whole blood from children defined as “slow” (n = 10) compared with “rapid” (n = 10) postnatal (term to 12 weeks corrected age) growers. Methylation within the identified TACSTD2 gene was measured in both cohorts, and rs61779296 genotype was determined by Pyrosequencing or imputation and analyzed in relation to body composition at 9–15 years of age. In cohort 1, TACSTD2 expression was inversely correlated with methylation (P = 0.016), and both measures were associated with fat mass (expression, P = 0.049; methylation, P = 0.037). Although associated with gene expression (cohort 1, P = 0.008) and methylation (cohort 1, P = 2.98 × 10−11; cohort 2, P = 3.43 × 10−15), rs61779296 was not associated with postnatal growth or fat mass in either cohort following multiple regression analysis. Hence, the lack of association between fat mass and a methylation proxy SNP suggests that reverse causation or confounding may explain the initial association between fat mass and gene regulation. Noncausal methylation patterns may still be useful predictors of later adiposity.
doi:10.2337/db11-1039
PMCID: PMC3266428  PMID: 22190649
9.  Effectiveness of dietary interventions among adults of retirement age: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials 
BMC Medicine  2014;12:60.
Background
Retirement from work involves significant lifestyle changes and may represent an opportunity to promote healthier eating patterns in later life. However, the effectiveness of dietary interventions during this period has not been evaluated.
Methods
We undertook a systematic review of dietary interventions among adults of retirement transition age (54 to 70 years). Twelve electronic databases were searched for randomized controlled trials evaluating the promotion of a healthy dietary pattern, or its constituent food groups, with three or more months of follow-up and reporting intake of specific food groups. Random-effects models were used to determine the pooled effect sizes. Subgroup analysis and meta-regression were used to assess sources of heterogeneity.
Results
Out of 9,048 publications identified, 68 publications reporting 24 studies fulfilled inclusion criteria. Twenty-two studies, characterized by predominantly overweight and obese participants, were included in the meta-analysis. Overall, interventions increased fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake by 87.5 g/day (P <0.00001), with similar results in the short-to-medium (that is, 4 to 12 months; 85.6 g/day) and long-term (that is, 13 to 58 months; 87.0 g/day) and for body mass index (BMI) stratification. Interventions produced slightly higher intakes of fruit (mean 54.0 g/day) than of vegetables (mean 44.6 g/day), and significant increases in fish (7 g/day, P = 0.03) and decreases in meat intake (9 g/day, P <0.00001).
Conclusions
Increases in F&V intakes were positively associated with the number of participant intervention contacts. Dietary interventions delivered during the retirement transition are therefore effective, sustainable in the longer term and likely to be of public health significance.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-60
PMCID: PMC4021978  PMID: 24712557
Mediterranean diet; Fruit and vegetables; Retirement; Aging; Randomized controlled trial; Systematic review; Meta-analysis
10.  Comparison of Mitochondrial Mutation Spectra in Ageing Human Colonic Epithelium and Disease: Absence of Evidence for Purifying Selection in Somatic Mitochondrial DNA Point Mutations 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003082.
Human ageing has been predicted to be caused by the accumulation of molecular damage in cells and tissues. Somatic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations have been documented in a number of ageing tissues and have been shown to be associated with cellular mitochondrial dysfunction. It is unknown whether there are selective constraints, which have been shown to occur in the germline, on the occurrence and expansion of these mtDNA mutations within individual somatic cells. Here we compared the pattern and spectrum of mutations observed in ageing human colon to those observed in the general population (germline variants) and those associated with primary mtDNA disease. The pathogenicity of the protein encoding mutations was predicted using a computational programme, MutPred, and the scores obtained for the three groups compared. We show that the mutations associated with ageing are randomly distributed throughout the genome, are more frequently non-synonymous or frameshift mutations than the general population, and are significantly more pathogenic than population variants. Mutations associated with primary mtDNA disease were significantly more pathogenic than ageing or population mutations. These data provide little evidence for any selective constraints on the occurrence and expansion of mtDNA mutations in somatic cells of the human colon during human ageing in contrast to germline mutations seen in the general population.
Author Summary
Mitochondrial DNA encodes essential components of the mitochondrial respiratory chain and is strictly maternally inherited, making it vulnerable to the accumulation of deleterious mutations. To avoid this, mtDNA is subjected to a bottleneck phenomenon whereby only a small number of mtDNA molecules are passed on to the oocyte precursor. These are then amplified to the required number of mtDNA molecules in the mature oocyte, meaning that any mutations may be either lost or rapidly fixed. Purifying selection is thought to be an important protective mechanism against pathogenic mtDNA mutations in the germline, as this is essential for mtDNA stability. It is unknown whether there are any such protective mechanisms in the somatic tissues. To investigate this we have compared the spectrum of mutations present in ageing human colonocytes with those population variants passed through the maternal germline and mtDNA mutations responsible for primary mtDNA disease. We show that pathogenic mtDNA mutations are present at a significantly higher frequency in the somatic cells of the human colon in contrast to variants that have passed though the germline, showing little evidence for purifying selection in the somatic tissues studied here, but strong evidence of this selective mechanism in the germline.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003082
PMCID: PMC3499406  PMID: 23166522
11.  MYOD-1 in normal colonic mucosa – role as a putative biomarker? 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:240.
Background
DNA methylation of promoter-associated CpG islands of certain genes may play a role in the development of colorectal cancer. The MYOD-1 gene which is a muscle differentiation gene has been showed to be significantly methylated in colorectal cancer which, is an age related event. However the role of this gene in the colonic mucosa is not understood and whether methylation occurs in subjects without colon cancer. In this study, we have determined the frequency of methylation of the MYOD-1 gene in normal colonic mucosa and investigated to see if this is associated with established colorectal cancer risk factors primarily ageing.
Results
We analysed colonic mucosal biopsies in 218 normal individuals and demonstrated that in most individuals promoter hypermethylation was not quantified for MYOD-1. However, promoter hypermethylation increased significantly with age (p < 0.001 using regression analysis) and this was gender independent. We also showed that gene promoter methylation increased positively with an increase in waist to hip (WHR) ratio – the latter is also a known risk factor for colon cancer development.
Conclusions
Our study suggests that promoter gene hypermethylation of the MYOD-1 gene increases significantly with age in normal individuals and thus may offer potential as a putative biomarker for colorectal cancer.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-240
PMCID: PMC3394207  PMID: 22591756
MYOD-1; Colorectal cancer; Age; Promoter methylation
12.  Global LINE-1 DNA methylation is associated with blood glycaemic and lipid profiles 
Background Patterns of DNA methylation change with age and these changes are believed to be associated with the development of common complex diseases. The hypothesis that Long Interspersed Nucleotide Element 1 (LINE-1) DNA methylation (an index of global DNA methylation) is associated with biomarkers of metabolic health was investigated in this study.
Methods Global LINE-1 DNA methylation was quantified by pyrosequencing in blood-derived DNA samples from 228 individuals, aged 49–51 years, from the Newcastle Thousand Families Study (NTFS). Associations between log-transformed LINE-1 DNA methylation levels and anthropometric and blood biochemical measurements, including triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, fasting glucose and insulin secretion and resistance were examined.
Results Linear regression, after adjustment for sex, demonstrated positive associations between log-transformed LINE-1 DNA methylation and fasting glucose {coefficient 2.80 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.39–5.22]}, total cholesterol [4.76 (95% CI 1.43–8.10)], triglycerides [3.83 (95% CI 1.30–6.37)] and LDL-cholesterol [5.38 (95% CI 2.12–8.64)] concentrations. A negative association was observed between log-transformed LINE-1 methylation and both HDL cholesterol concentration [−1.43 (95% CI −2.38 to −0.48)] and HDL:LDL ratio [−1.06 (95% CI −1.76 to −0.36)]. These coefficients reflect the millimoles per litre change in biochemical measurements per unit increase in log-transformed LINE-1 methylation.
Conclusions These novel associations between global LINE-1 DNA methylation and blood glycaemic and lipid profiles highlight a potential role for epigenetic biomarkers as predictors of metabolic disease and may be relevant to future diagnosis, prevention and treatment of this group of disorders. Further work is required to establish the role of confounding and reverse causation in the observed associations.
doi:10.1093/ije/dys020
PMCID: PMC3304536  PMID: 22422454
Global DNA methylation; LINE-1; cohort study; glucose; HDL/LDL cholesterol; insulin; triglyceride
13.  Effect of Maternal and Post-Weaning Folate Supply on Gene-Specific DNA Methylation in the Small Intestine of Weaning and Adult Apc+/Min and Wild Type Mice 
Increasing evidence supports the developmental origins of adult health and disease hypothesis which argues for a causal relationship between adverse early life nutrition and increased disease risk in adulthood. Modulation of epigenetic marks, e.g., DNA methylation and consequential altered gene expression, has been proposed as a mechanism mediating these effects. Via its role as a methyl donor, dietary folate supply may influence DNA methylation. As aberrant methylation is an early event in colorectal cancer (CRC) pathogenesis, we hypothesized low maternal and/or post-weaning folate intake may influence methylation of genes involved in CRC development. We investigated the effects of maternal folate depletion during pregnancy and lactation on selected gene methylation in the small intestine of wild type (WT) and Apc+/Min mice at weaning and as adults. We also investigated the effects of folate depletion post-weaning on gene methylation in adult mice. Female C57Bl6/J mice were fed low or normal folate diets from mating with Apc+/Min males to the end of lactation. A sub-set of offspring were killed at weaning. Remaining offspring were weaned on to low or normal folate diets, resulting in four treatment groups of Apc+/Min and WT mice. p53 was more methylated in weaning and adult WT compared with Apc+/Min mice (p > 0.001). Igf2 and Apc were hypermethylated in adult Apc+/Min compared with WT mice (p = 0.004 and 0.012 respectively). Low maternal folate reduced p53 methylation in adults (p = 0.04). Low post-weaning folate increased Apc methylation in Apc+/Min mice only (p = 0.008 for interaction). These observations demonstrate that folate depletion in early life can alter epigenetic marks in a gene-specific manner. Also, the differential effects of altered folate supply on DNA methylation in WT and Apc+/Min mice suggest that genotype may modulate epigenetic responses to environmental cues and may have implications for the development of personalized nutrition.
doi:10.3389/fgene.2011.00023
PMCID: PMC3268578  PMID: 22303319
folate; gene-specific DNA methylation; in utero; Apc+/Min mouse; CRC
14.  Folate depletion during pregnancy and lactation reduces genomic DNA methylation in murine adult offspring 
Genes & Nutrition  2010;6(2):189-196.
The developmental origins of adult health and disease (DOHaD) hypothesis that argues for a causal relationship between under-nutrition during early life and increased risk for a range of diseases in adulthood is gaining epidemiological support. One potential mechanism mediating these effects is the modulation of epigenetic markings, specifically DNA methylation. Since folate is an important methyl donor, alterations in supply of this micronutrient may influence the availability of methyl groups for DNA methylation. We hypothesised that low folate supply in utero and post-weaning would alter the DNA methylation profile of offspring. In two separate 2 × 2 factorial designed experiments, female C57Bl6/J mice were fed low- or control/high-folate diets during mating, and through pregnancy and lactation. Offspring were weaned on to either low- or control/high-folate diets, resulting in 4 treatment groups/experiment. Genomic DNA methylation was measured in the small intestine (SI) of 100-day-old offspring. In both experiments, SI genomic DNA from offspring of low-folate-fed dams was significantly hypomethylated compared with the corresponding control/high folate group (P = 0.009/P = 0.006, respectively). Post-weaning folate supply did not affect SI genomic DNA methylation significantly. These observations demonstrate that early life folate depletion affects epigenetic markings, that this effect is not modulated by post-weaning folate supply and that altered epigenetic marks persist into adulthood.
doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0199-1
PMCID: PMC3092907  PMID: 21484149
Folate; DNA methylation; Pregnancy; Development; Mouse
15.  Development and validation of a standardized protocol to monitor human dietary exposure by metabolite fingerprinting of urine samples 
Metabolomics  2011;7(4):469-484.
Conventional tools for measuring dietary exposure have well recognized limitations. Measurement of food-derived metabolites in biofluids provides an alternative approach and our aim was to develop an experimental protocol which ensures that extraneous variability does not obscure metabolic signals from ingested foods. Healthy adults consumed a standardized meal in the evening before each test day and collected pooled overnight urine. On each test day of three different studies, urine was collected in the fasted state and at different time points after consumption of a standardized breakfast. Metabolite fingerprinting of samples using Flow Infusion Electrospray-Ionization Mass Spectrometry followed by multivariate data analysis showed strong discrimination between overnight, fasting and postprandial samples, in each study separately and when data from the three studies were pooled. Such differences were robust and highly reproducible within individuals on separate occasions. Urine volume was an efficient data normalization factor for metabolite fingerprinting data. Postprandial urines had a stable chemical composition over a period of 2–4 h after eating a standardized breakfast, suggesting that there is a flexible time window for urine collection. Fasting urine samples provided a stable baseline for universal comparisons with postprandial samples. A dietary exposure biomarker discovery protocol was validated by demonstrating that top-ranked signals discriminating between fasting and 2–4 h postprandial urine samples could be linked to metabolites abundant in some components of the standardized breakfast. We conclude that the protocol developed will have value in the search for biomarker leads of dietary exposure.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11306-011-0289-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11306-011-0289-0
PMCID: PMC3193537  PMID: 22039364
Dietary exposure; Metabolomics; Fasting metabolite profile; Postprandial metabolite profile; Test meal paradigm; Multivariate data analysis
16.  Defects in multiple complexes of the respiratory chain are present in ageing human colonic crypts 
Experimental Gerontology  2010;45(7-8):573-579.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations accumulate in a number of ageing tissues and are proposed to play a role in the ageing process. We have previously shown that colonic crypt stem cells accumulate somatic mtDNA point mutations during ageing. These mtDNA mutations result in the loss of the activity of complex IV (cytochrome c oxidase (COX)) of the respiratory chain in the stem cells and their progeny, producing colonic crypts which are entirely COX deficient. However it is not known whether the other complexes of the respiratory chain are similarly affected during ageing. Here we have used antibodies to individual subunits of complexes I–IV to investigate their expression in the colonic epithelium from human subjects aged 18–84. We show that in ∼50% of crypts with any form of respiratory chain deficiency, decreased expression of subunits of multiple complexes is observed. Furthermore we have sequenced the entire mitochondrial genome of a number of cells with multiple complex defects and have found a wide variety of point mutations in these cells affecting a number of different protein encoding and RNA encoding genes. Finally we discuss the possible mechanisms by which multiple respiratory chain complex defects may occur in these cells.
doi:10.1016/j.exger.2010.01.013
PMCID: PMC2887930  PMID: 20096767
Ageing; Mitochondria; mtDNA; Colon; Respiratory chain; Mutation
18.  Assessment of dietary intake: NuGO symposium report 
Genes & Nutrition  2010;5(3):205-213.
Advances in genomics science and associated bioinformatics and technology mean that excellent tools are available for characterising human genotypes. At the same time, approaches for characterising individual phenotypes are developing rapidly. In contrast, there has been much less investment in novel methodology for measuring dietary exposures so that there is now a significant gap in the toolkit for those investigating how diet interacts with genotype to determine phenotype. This symposium reviewed the strengths and limitations of current tools used in assessment of dietary intake and the potential to improve these tools through, for example, the use of statistical techniques that combine information from different sources (such as modelling and calibration methods) to ameliorate measurement error and to provide validity checks. Speakers examined the use of approaches based on technologies such as mobile ‘phones, digital cameras and Web-based systems which offer the potential for more acceptable (for study participants) and less laborious (for researchers and participants) routes to more robust data collection. In addition, the application of omics, especially metabolomics, tools to biofluids to identify new biomarkers of intake offers great potential to provide objective measures of food consumption with the advantage that data may be collected in forms that can be integrated readily with other high throughput (nutrigenomic) technologies.
doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0175-9
PMCID: PMC2935535  PMID: 21052527
Dietary intake; Assessment; Nutrigenomics; Phenotype; Exposure
19.  Assessment of dietary intake: NuGO symposium report 
Genes & Nutrition  2010;5(3):205-213.
Advances in genomics science and associated bioinformatics and technology mean that excellent tools are available for characterising human genotypes. At the same time, approaches for characterising individual phenotypes are developing rapidly. In contrast, there has been much less investment in novel methodology for measuring dietary exposures so that there is now a significant gap in the toolkit for those investigating how diet interacts with genotype to determine phenotype. This symposium reviewed the strengths and limitations of current tools used in assessment of dietary intake and the potential to improve these tools through, for example, the use of statistical techniques that combine information from different sources (such as modelling and calibration methods) to ameliorate measurement error and to provide validity checks. Speakers examined the use of approaches based on technologies such as mobile ‘phones, digital cameras and Web-based systems which offer the potential for more acceptable (for study participants) and less laborious (for researchers and participants) routes to more robust data collection. In addition, the application of omics, especially metabolomics, tools to biofluids to identify new biomarkers of intake offers great potential to provide objective measures of food consumption with the advantage that data may be collected in forms that can be integrated readily with other high throughput (nutrigenomic) technologies.
doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0175-9
PMCID: PMC2935535  PMID: 21052527
Dietary intake; Assessment; Nutrigenomics; Phenotype; Exposure
20.  Age-associated mitochondrial DNA mutations lead to small but significant changes in cell proliferation and apoptosis in human colonic crypts 
Aging Cell  2010;9(1):96-99.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations are a cause of human disease and are proposed to have a role in human aging. Clonally expanded mtDNA point mutations have been detected in replicating tissues and have been shown to cause respiratory chain (RC) defects. The effect of these mutations on other cellular functions has not been established. Here, we investigate the consequences of RC deficiency on human colonic epithelial stem cells and their progeny in elderly individuals. We show for the first time in aging human tissue that RC deficiency attenuates cell proliferation and increases apoptosis in the progeny of RC deficient stem cells, leading to decreased crypt cell population.
doi:10.1111/j.1474-9726.2009.00531.x
PMCID: PMC2816353  PMID: 19878146
aging; colon; mitochondrial DNA; respiratory chain; stem cells
21.  Challenges of molecular nutrition research 6: the nutritional phenotype database to store, share and evaluate nutritional systems biology studies 
Genes & Nutrition  2010;5(3):189-203.
The challenge of modern nutrition and health research is to identify food-based strategies promoting life-long optimal health and well-being. This research is complex because it exploits a multitude of bioactive compounds acting on an extensive network of interacting processes. Whereas nutrition research can profit enormously from the revolution in ‘omics’ technologies, it has discipline-specific requirements for analytical and bioinformatic procedures. In addition to measurements of the parameters of interest (measures of health), extensive description of the subjects of study and foods or diets consumed is central for describing the nutritional phenotype. We propose and pursue an infrastructural activity of constructing the “Nutritional Phenotype database” (dbNP). When fully developed, dbNP will be a research and collaboration tool and a publicly available data and knowledge repository. Creation and implementation of the dbNP will maximize benefits to the research community by enabling integration and interrogation of data from multiple studies, from different research groups, different countries and different—omics levels. The dbNP is designed to facilitate storage of biologically relevant, pre-processed—omics data, as well as study descriptive and study participant phenotype data. It is also important to enable the combination of this information at different levels (e.g. to facilitate linkage of data describing participant phenotype, genotype and food intake with information on study design and—omics measurements, and to combine all of this with existing knowledge). The biological information stored in the database (i.e. genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, biomarkers, metabolomics, functional assays, food intake and food composition) is tailored to nutrition research and embedded in an environment of standard procedures and protocols, annotations, modular data-basing, networking and integrated bioinformatics. The dbNP is an evolving enterprise, which is only sustainable if it is accepted and adopted by the wider nutrition and health research community as an open source, pre-competitive and publicly available resource where many partners both can contribute and profit from its developments. We introduce the Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGO, http://www.nugo.org) as a membership association responsible for establishing and curating the dbNP. Within NuGO, all efforts related to dbNP (i.e. usage, coordination, integration, facilitation and maintenance) will be directed towards a sustainable and federated infrastructure.
doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0167-9
PMCID: PMC2935528  PMID: 21052526
Nutritional phenotype; Nutrigenomics; Database
22.  Challenges of molecular nutrition research 6: the nutritional phenotype database to store, share and evaluate nutritional systems biology studies 
Genes & Nutrition  2010;5(3):189-203.
The challenge of modern nutrition and health research is to identify food-based strategies promoting life-long optimal health and well-being. This research is complex because it exploits a multitude of bioactive compounds acting on an extensive network of interacting processes. Whereas nutrition research can profit enormously from the revolution in ‘omics’ technologies, it has discipline-specific requirements for analytical and bioinformatic procedures. In addition to measurements of the parameters of interest (measures of health), extensive description of the subjects of study and foods or diets consumed is central for describing the nutritional phenotype. We propose and pursue an infrastructural activity of constructing the “Nutritional Phenotype database” (dbNP). When fully developed, dbNP will be a research and collaboration tool and a publicly available data and knowledge repository. Creation and implementation of the dbNP will maximize benefits to the research community by enabling integration and interrogation of data from multiple studies, from different research groups, different countries and different—omics levels. The dbNP is designed to facilitate storage of biologically relevant, pre-processed—omics data, as well as study descriptive and study participant phenotype data. It is also important to enable the combination of this information at different levels (e.g. to facilitate linkage of data describing participant phenotype, genotype and food intake with information on study design and—omics measurements, and to combine all of this with existing knowledge). The biological information stored in the database (i.e. genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, biomarkers, metabolomics, functional assays, food intake and food composition) is tailored to nutrition research and embedded in an environment of standard procedures and protocols, annotations, modular data-basing, networking and integrated bioinformatics. The dbNP is an evolving enterprise, which is only sustainable if it is accepted and adopted by the wider nutrition and health research community as an open source, pre-competitive and publicly available resource where many partners both can contribute and profit from its developments. We introduce the Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGO, http://www.nugo.org) as a membership association responsible for establishing and curating the dbNP. Within NuGO, all efforts related to dbNP (i.e. usage, coordination, integration, facilitation and maintenance) will be directed towards a sustainable and federated infrastructure.
doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0167-9
PMCID: PMC2935528  PMID: 21052526
Nutritional phenotype; Nutrigenomics; Database
23.  Quantification of Mitochondrial DNA Mutation Load 
Aging cell  2009;8(5):566-572.
Summary
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations are an important cause of genetic disease and have been proposed to play a role in the ageing process. Quantification of total mtDNA mutation load in ageing tissues is difficult as mutational events are rare in a background of wild-type molecules, and detection of individual mutated molecules is beyond the sensitivity of most sequencing based techniques. The methods currently most commonly used to document the incidence of mtDNA point mutations in ageing include post-PCR cloning, single-molecule PCR and the random mutation capture assay. The mtDNA mutation load obtained by these different techniques varies by orders of magnitude, but direct comparison of the three techniques on the same ageing human tissue has not been performed. We assess the procedures and practicalities involved in each of these three assays and discuss the results obtained by investigation of mutation loads in colonic mucosal biopsies from ten human subjects.
doi:10.1111/j.1474-9726.2009.00505.x
PMCID: PMC2752485  PMID: 19624578
ageing; mitochondria; mitochondrial DNA; mutation load; human; colon; polymerase chain reaction; cloning
24.  Folate intake and bowel cancer risk 
Genes & Nutrition  2009;4(3):173-178.
Folate is a B vitamin required for one-carbon transfer reactions including methylation of cell macromolecules including DNA and synthesis of the purines adenosine and guanosine and the pyrimidine thymidine. Epidemiological evidence suggests that diets providing higher amounts of folates lower the risk of colo-rectal cancer (CRC) and these observations are supported by plausible biological mechanisms. Inadequate folate supply results in DNA damage through (a) the incorporation of uracil (in place of thymidine) into DNA and subsequent unsuccessful attempts at DNA repair and (b) aberrant patterns of DNA methylation. However, human intervention studies using relatively large doses (500–5,000 μg/day) of folic acid (a synthetic form of folate) have provided no evidence of benefit in terms of adenoma recurrence. Indeed, there is some evidence of potential harm in increased risk of prostate cancer. Possible reasons for the apparent divergence in findings from the observational and intervention studies include the use of (unphysiologically) large doses of folic acid in the intervention studies whereas smaller intakes of food folates appeared to offer “protection” against CRC in case–control and prospective cohort studies. With intakes of folic acid greater than 400 μg/day, unmetabolised folic acid appears in peripheral blood and there are suggestions that this folic acid may have adverse effects e.g. reduced cytotoxicity of Natural Killer cells. Until the benefit-risk relationship associated with mandatory fortification with folic acid has been clarified (and, in particular, the possible risk of inducing extra cases of bowel or other cancer), it would seem wise to delay further mandatory folic acid fortification.
doi:10.1007/s12263-009-0126-5
PMCID: PMC2745742  PMID: 19499262
Biomarker; Bowel cancer; Folate; Folic acid; Intervention; Polyp
25.  Are behavioral interventions effective in increasing physical activity at 12 to 36 months in adults aged 55 to 70 years? a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:75.
Background
Retirement represents a major transitional life stage in middle to older age. Changes in physical activity typically accompany this transition, which has significant consequences for health and well-being. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the evidence for the effect of interventions to promote physical activity in adults aged 55 to 70 years, focusing on studies that reported long-term effectiveness. This systematic review adheres to a registered protocol (PROSPERO CRD42011001459).
Methods
Randomized controlled trials of interventions to promote physical activity behavior with a mean/median sample age of 55 to 70 years, published between 2000 and 2010, were identified. Only trials reporting the long-term effect (≥ 12 months) on objective or self-reported physical activity behavior were included. Trials reporting physiological proxy measures of physical activity were excluded. Meta-analyses were conducted when trials provided sufficient data and sensitivity analyses were conducted to identify potential confounding effects of trials of poor methodological quality or with attrition rates ≥ 30%.
Results
Of 17,859 publications identified, 32 were included which reported on 21 individual trials. The majority of interventions were multimodal and provided physical activity and lifestyle counselling. Interventions to promote physical activity were effective at 12 months (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 1.08, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.16 to 1.99, pedometer step-count, approximating to an increase of 2,197 steps per day; SMD = 0.19, 95% CI = 0.10 to 0.28, self-reported physical activity duration outcome), but not at 24 months based on a small subset of trials. There was no evidence for a relationship between intervention effectiveness and mode of delivery or number of intervention contacts; however, interventions which involved individually tailoring with personalized activity goals or provision of information about local opportunities in the environment may be more effective.
Conclusions
Interventions in adults aged 55 to 70 years led to long term improvements in physical activity at 12 months; however, maintenance beyond this is unclear. Identified physical activity improvements are likely to have substantial health benefits in reducing the risk of age-related illnesses. These findings have important implications for community-based public health interventions in and around the retirement transition.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-75
PMCID: PMC3681560  PMID: 23506544
Physical activity; intervention; aging; systematic review; meta-analysis

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