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1.  Targeting the Epigenome with Bioactive Food Components for Cancer Prevention 
Epigenetic processes participate in cancer development and likely influence cancer prevention. Global DNA hypomethylation, gene promoter hypermethylation and aberrant histone post-translational modifications are hallmarks of neoplastic cells which have been associated with genomic instability and altered gene expression. Because epigenetic deregulation occurs early in carcinogenesis and is potentially reversible, intervention strategies targeting the epigenome have been proposed for cancer prevention. Bioactive food components (BFCs) with anticancer potential, including folate, polyphenols, selenium, retinoids, fatty acids, isothiocyanates and allyl compounds, influence DNA methylation and histone modification processes. Such activities have been shown to affect the expression of genes involved in cell proliferation, death and differentiation that are frequently altered in cancer. Although the epigenome represents a promising target for cancer prevention with BFCs, few studies have addressed the influence of dietary components on these mechanisms in vivo, particularly on the phenotype of humans, and thus the exact mechanisms whereby diet mediates an effect on cancer prevention remains unclear. Primary factors that should be elucidated include the effective doses and dose timing of BFCs to attain epigenetic effects. Because diet-epigenome interactions are likely to occur in utero, the impact of early-life nutrition on cancer risk programming should be further investigated.
PMCID: PMC3388269  PMID: 22353664
Bioactive food components; Cancer; DNA methylation; Epigenome; Histone modifications; Prevention
2.  Polymorphisms in 1-Carbon Metabolism, Epigenetics and Folate-Related Pathologies 
Folate-mediated 1-carbon metabolism is a network of interconnected metabolic pathways necessary for the synthesis of purine nucleotides, thymidylate and the remethylation of homocysteine to methionine. Disruptions in this pathway influence both DNA synthesis and stability and chromatin methylation, and result from nutritional deficiencies and common gene variants. The mechanisms underlying folate-associated pathologies and developmental anomalies have yet to be established. This review focuses on the relationships among folate-mediated 1-carbon metabolism, chromatin methylation and human disease, and the role of gene-nutrient interactions in modifying epigenetic processes.
PMCID: PMC3696357  PMID: 22353665
Epigenetics; Folate; Genetic variation; Methylation; One-carbon metabolism
3.  Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics: Viewpoints on the Current Status and Applications in Nutrition Research and Practice 
Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics hold much promise for providing better nutritional advice to the public generally, genetic subgroups and individuals. Because nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics require a deep understanding of nutrition, genetics and biochemistry and ever new ‘omic’ technologies, it is often difficult, even for educated professionals, to appreciate their relevance to the practice of preventive approaches for optimising health, delaying onset of disease and diminishing its severity. This review discusses (i) the basic concepts, technical terms and technology involved in nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics; (ii) how this emerging knowledge can be applied to optimise health, prevent and treat diseases; (iii) how to read, understand and interpret nutrigenetic and nutrigenomic research results, and (iv) how this knowledge may potentially transform nutrition and dietetic practice, and the implications of such a transformation. This is in effect an up-to-date overview of the various aspects of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics relevant to health practitioners who are seeking a better understanding of this new frontier in nutrition research and its potential application to dietetic practice.
PMCID: PMC3121546  PMID: 21625170
Dietetics; Nutrigenetics; Nutrigenomics; Nutrition Research; Personalised nutrition
4.  Determinants of Aspirin Metabolism in Healthy Men and Women: Effects of Dietary Inducers of UDP-Glucuronosyltransferases 
Interindividual variation in aspirin (ASA) metabolism is attributed to concomitant use of drugs or alcohol, urine pH, ethnicity, sex, and genetic variants in UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGT). Little is known about the effects of diet.
We evaluated cross-sectionally whether urinary excretion of ASA and its metabolites [salicylic acid (SA), salicyluric acid (SUA) phenolic glucuronide (SUAPG), salicylic acid acyl glucuronide (SAAG) and salicylic acid phenolic glucuronide (SAPG)] differed by UGT1A6 genotype and dietary factors shown to induce UGT. Following oral treatment with 650 mg ASA, urine was collected over 8 h in 264 men and 264 women (21–45 years old).
There were statistically significant differences in metabolites excreted between sexes and ethnicities. Men excreted more SUA; women more ASA (p = 0.03), SA, SAAG and SAPG (p ≤ 0.001 for all). Compared to Caucasians, Asians excreted more ASA, SA and SAAG, and less SUA and SUAPG (p ≤ 0.03 for all); African-Americans excreted more SAAG and SAPG and less SUA (p ≤ 0.04). There was no effect of UGT1A6 genotypes. Increased ASA and decreased SUAPG excretion was observed with increased servings of vegetables (p = 0.008), specifically crucifers (p = 0.05).
Diet may influence the pharmacokinetics of ASA, but effects may be through modulation of glycine conjugation rather than glucuronidation.
PMCID: PMC3121547  PMID: 21625173
Aspirin; Citrus; Cruciferous vegetables; Glucuronidation; Soy; UDP-glucuronosyltransferases
5.  Nutrigenetic Disruption of Inflammation-Resolution Homeostasis and Atherogenesis 
Pro-resolving and anti-inflammatory mediator products of murine 12/15-lipoxygenase (LOX) exhibit potent actions on vascular inflammation and protect against the progression of atherosclerosis. The present study was designed to determine whether augmenting dietary lipids modulates the body's endogenous anti-inflammatory pro-resolving mechanisms and promotes atherosclerosis.
We investigated the biometabolic consequences of variations in lipid mediator biosynthesis using genetic knockout and overexpression models of 12/15-LOX mice fed the commonly used ‘Western diet’. Unexpectedly, this high-fat diet annulled the protective actions of 12/15-LOX, and the combination of a Western diet and 12/15-LOX overexpression paradoxically promoted inflammation leading to production of diet-related and 12/15-LOX-dependent blood mediators that differentially activated endothelial cells via expression of ICAM-1. Hyperlipidemia not only affected the biosynthesis of lipoxin A4, a key pro-resolving mediator, but also disrupted the protective pro-resolving function of 12/15-LOX products, and the enzyme pathway no longer protected against atherosclerosis in vivo.
We uncovered a novel mechanism whereby a high-fat diet as well as hyperlipidemia disrupt the homeostasis of inflammation resolution. These findings underscore the importance of dietary essential PUFAs and LOX-derived lipid mediators in combination with lipid-lowering agents in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3080581  PMID: 21474962
Hyperlipidemia; Inflammation; Lipoxins; Lipoxygenase; Resolution
6.  Nutrigenomics, Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention 
Although there is growing epidemiological, preclinical and clinical evidence suggesting that low vitamin D intake, exposure and/or status is associated with an increased risk of various types of cancer, the optimum amount needed remains controversial. Furthermore, there is evidence that a U- or J-shaped response curve exist between 25(OH)D and certain cancers. Increasing information about the impact of genetic variation, especially polymorphisms that influence absorption, transport, metabolism and associated molecular targets, should help clarify inconsistencies in the data regarding vitamin D's effect on cancer risk. Rather than focusing on the main effects of a few variants of these genes alone, future studies need to consider gene-nutrient or environmental interactions. Nutrigenomics should clarify who might benefit and be placed at risk because of vitamin D exposure.
PMCID: PMC3219444  PMID: 21430387
Vitamin D; Cancer prevention; Vitamin D receptor; Nutrigenomics; Biomarkers; Polymorphisms
8.  Strategies to Improve Detection of Hypertension Genes 
PMCID: PMC3085524  PMID: 21474950
11.  Dietary Manipulation of Histone Structure and Function 
PMCID: PMC3085528  PMID: 21474954
13.  Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, DNA Repair Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Colorectal Cancer in the Singapore Chinese Health Study 
Animal and in vitrostudies support a role for polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in colon carcinogenesis; however, the epidemiological evidence is inconclusive. Recently, we investigated their role within the Singapore Chinese Health Study, a population-based cohort of Singapore Chinese men and women. We reported that a high intake of marine n–3 PUFAs was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). Oxidation of PUFAs incorporated into cell membranes generates lipid hydroperoxides, which can be mutagenic. In this report, we investigated whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in DNA repair genes modified the effect of PUFAs on CRC risk using a nested case-control study within the Singapore Chinese Health Study. We genotyped 1,181 controls and 311 cases (180 colon and 131 rectal cancer) for SNPs in the XRCC1 (Arg194Trp, Arg399Gln), OGG1 (Ser326Cys), PARP (Val762Ala, Lys940Arg), and XPD (Asp312Asn, Lys751Gln) genes. We observed that the PARP Val762Ala SNP modified the association between marine n–3 PUFA and rectal cancer risk, with no evidence of interaction among colon cancer (heterogeneity test p = 0.003). Our results suggest a positive association between high intake of marine n–3 PUFA and rectal cancer risk among carriers of at least one PARP codon 762 Ala allele (odds ratio = 1.7, 95% confidence interval = 1.1–2.7).
PMCID: PMC2941837  PMID: 20559012
Colorectal cancer, Singapore; PARP; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; n–3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids
15.  Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Implications for Nutrigenetics 
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) arises as a result of genetic predisposition in the context of a disease-promoting environment. While several risk factors have been identified for CVD, such as elevated serum lipid levels and hypertension, most of the genes identified thus far do not appear to involve such ‘conventional’ risk factors. Moreover, the interactions between genes and environment, such as a diet high in certain fats, adds another level of complexity to CVD and renders identification of the underlying genetic factors even more difficult. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as the ω–6 and ω–3 fatty acids, which have multiple roles in membrane structure, lipid metabolism, blood clotting, blood pressure, and, in particular, inflammation, have been linked to the reduction in CVD. Linoleic (ω–6) and α-linolenic acid (ω–3) are essential fatty acids that can be converted into long-chain PUFAs, such as arachidonic acid (AA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), respectively. These long-chain PUFAs are metabolized by enzymatically catalyzed systems via cyclooxygenases and lipoxygenases. The 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO)/leukotriene (LT) biosynthesis pathway has been biochemically and genetically associated with CVD traits in mice and humans, particularly in the context of dietary AA and EPA/DHA. In this review, we summarize the biochemical metabolism of ω–3 and ω–6 PUFAs, evaluate the evidence for genetic and nutrigenetic contributions of 5-LO pathway genes to CVD, and discuss the potential of future studies that could identify other gene-dietary interactions between PUFAs and CVD traits.
PMCID: PMC2820567  PMID: 19776641
Cardiovascular disease; Genes; Fatty acids; 5-Lipoxygenase; Leukotriene
16.  ω–3 Fatty Acids, Genetic Variants in COX-2 and Prostate Cancer 
Dietary intake of fish and ω–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω–3 PUFAs) may decrease the risk of prostate cancer development and progression to advanced stage disease. This could reflect the anti-inflammatory effects of PUFAs, possibly through mediation of cyclooxygenase (COX), a key enzyme in fatty acid metabolism and inflammation. Despite promising experimental evidence, epidemiological studies have reported somewhat conflicting results regarding the effects of fish/PUFAs on prostate cancer development and progression. The literature suggests that fish, and particularly long-chain ω–3 PUFAs, may have a more pronounced protective effect on biologically aggressive tumors or on their progression, and less on early steps of carcinogenesis. Moreover, the impact of LC ω–3 PUFAs may be modified by variation of the COX-2 gene. Overall, results to date support the hypothesis that long-chain ω–3 PUFAs may impact prostate inflammation and carcinogenesis via the COX-2 enzymatic pathway.
PMCID: PMC2820568  PMID: 19776642
Cyclooxygenase 2; Diet; Gene; Genetic variation; ω–3 fatty acids; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; Prostatic neoplasms; Single nucleotide polymorphism
17.  Effect of Dietary Calcium and Dairy Proteins on the Adipose Tissue Gene Expression Profile in Diet-Induced Obesity 
Calcium and dairy proteins have been postulated to explain why the intake of dairy products correlates inversely with body mass index in several populations. We have shown that a high-calcium diet with whey protein attenuates weight gain and now we describe the effects of this diet on adipose tissue gene expression.
Nine-week-old C57Bl/6J mice were divided into two groups (n = 10/group). The control diet was a standard high-fat diet (60% of energy) low in calcium (0.4%). The whey protein diet was a high-calcium (1.8%), high-fat diet with whey protein. After the 21-week treatment, adipose tissue transcript profiling (2 mice/group) was performed using Affymetrix Mouse Genome 430 2.0.
The high-calcium diet with whey protein altered the expression of 129 genes (± 1.2 fold). Quantitative RT-PCR analysis confirmed the significant up-regulation of Adrb3 (p = 0.002) and leptin (p = 0.0019) in the high-calcium whey group. Insulin and adipocytokine signaling pathways were enriched among the up-regulated genes and the fatty acid metabolism pathway among the down-regulated genes.
High-calcium diet with whey protein significantly modifies adipose tissue gene expression. These preliminary findings reveal that targets of a high-calcium diet with whey protein include genes for Adrb3 and leptin, and help to explain how the intake of dairy products might attenuate obesity.
PMCID: PMC2790753  PMID: 19776631
Dietary calcium; Diet-induced obesity; Gene expression; Whey protein
18.  Public Health Genomics and Genetic Test Evaluation: The Challenge of Conducting Behavioural Research on the Utility of Lifestyle-Genetic Tests 
Human genetics research is increasingly concerned with multifactorial conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which are influenced not only by genetic but also lifestyle factors such as diet and smoking. Although the results of ‘lifestyle-genetic’ tests using this information could conceivably motivate lifestyle changes in the future, companies are already selling such tests and related lifestyle advice commercially. Some academics and lobby groups have condemned the companies for selling these tests in advance of scientific support. Others are concerned that the tests may not motivate lifestyle improvements, instead causing distress in people receiving adverse test results and complacency in those receiving reassuring results. There is currently no regulatory oversight of genetic test utility, despite consensus in the Public Health Genomics community that clinical utility (including psychological and behavioural impact) of all emerging genetic tests should be evaluated before being introduced for individual use. Clearly, empirical data in this area is much needed, to inform understanding of the potential utility of these tests, and of whether stricter regulation of commercial exploitation is needed. In this article, we review the current situation regarding lifestyle-genetic tests, and discuss the challenges inherent in conducting this kind of behavioural research in the genomics era.
PMCID: PMC2820311  PMID: 19776630
Genetic testing; Lifestyle; Health behaviours; Clinical utility; Public health genomics

Results 1-18 (18)