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The Link Between Epigenetics and Diet

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Dominique Jackson

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of The Link Between Epigenetics and Diet

Epigenetics is related to the field of genetics.
Biological processes that regulate gene expression.
Epigenetic changes are reversible, and are not neccesarily passed on to further offspring.

What is Epigenetics?
The Link Between Epigenetics and Diet
DNA methylation is the adding of methyl groups to gene.
Most of the time, this methylation results in the unexpression of that particular gene.
DNA Methylation
DNA wraps around basic proteins that are called histones.
Most of the time, the addition of functional groups increases the likelihood of the gene being expressed.
Histone Modification
Epigenetic Mechanisms
There has been substantial scientific research that suggests that diet can alter epigenetic mechanisms.
Compounds found in certain types of foods can influence epigenetic mechanisms.
There is even new evidence that supports that your own diet could effect further generations.
Tollefsbol's Review
It is now believed that more than half of all cancer cases are caused by epigenetic changes.
Cancer cells are not normally heavily methylated, but if they are then that prevents tumor suppressor genes in the cell from being expressed.
Diet, Epigenetics and Cancer
Cancer and Epigenetics
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea has shown properties of being a cancer preventing/treating agent in lots of studies.

EGCG causes the methyl groups that are placed on cancer cells to be removed or not placed at all on the cells so that the tumor suppressor genes may be expressed.

Sulforaphane (SFN) is a compound found in leafy green vegetables that does similar work.
Cancer and Epigenetics
There are other compounds in foods that are being studied now that may have similar properties as EGCG and SFN.

These newly studied compounds can be found in wine, grapes, soybeans, and turmeric.

The ultimate goal is to create a diet with these foods that can prevent and treat cancers that are in their early stages.
Epigenetics and Endocrinology
Abby Fleisch, et. al
Epigenetic changes can cause certain environmental compounds to effect endocrine glands.

These compounds can act like ligands and either activate of repress hormone receptors which can cause endocrine endpoints to be altered.
Bisphenol A
Endocrine disrupting chemicals can alter the expression of tumor suppression genes.

Bisphenol A, a chemical found in food and beverage containers, has been proven to increase the expression of the Agouti gene and lead to the formation of tumors.
Diet and Cell Methylation
Dietary practices influence the methylation of cells.

Carbon metabolism serves as the main conduit for methyl group donations.

Folic acid, B vitamins, and zinc are crucial for carbon metabolism.
Epigenetics and Pregnancy
Poor nutrition during pregnancy tends to result in DNA hypomethylation occurring within offspring.

Results from inefficient methyl donor availability.

Leads to susceptibility to obesity and certain cancers among infants.
The RXRA Gene
Low levels of carbohydrate intake in the early stages of pregnancy and later childhood effect the methylation of the RXRA gene.

RXRA is involved in insulin sensitivity, adipogenesis, and fat metabolism.

This effects offspring resistance to insulin and obesity levels.
Folate and DNA Methylation
Type of natural B vitamin.

Folate deficiency effects DNA methylation in two ways.

1. Hypomethylation of DNA.

2. Misincorporations of uracil during DNA synthesis leading to an unstable genome.
Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) Paolo Vineis, et.al
NDCs are nontransmissible chronic diseases.

Diets including fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and limited unhealthy fat reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and other NCDs.
Gut Micro-biome
Manori Amarasekera, et al.
Epigenetic programming influences the developmental timing and expression of genes within the immune system.

Balance of the gut micro-biome is important for the expression of immune genes.
Alegria-Torres and et al. Review
This review suggests that several environmental factors cause epigenetic changes.
Diet, alcohol/tobacco consumption, stress, behavior, pollution, etc. can all effect epigenetic mechanisms in negative ways.
Food and Epigenetics
A diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (i.e. coffee, salad dressings) can be linked to high occurrences of epigenetic changes.
Diets that include lots of vegetables and fruits produce a high amount of antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants have anti-cancer properties.
Studies of Support
A study observed that when humans ate one serving of broccoli sprouts, several hours (3 to 6) later they exhibited the inhibition of histone modification (deacetylation).

In another study it was also discovered that in human colon tumor cells, a compound in garlic increased acetylation of certain histone proteins.
Food and Epigenetics
Vitamin B12 and folic acid are very important components needed for the making of enzymes that provide the methylation of genes.

So this clearly indicates that if a diet is high in folic acid and vitamin B12, then DNA methylation will occur frequently compared to a diet low in folic acid and vitamin B12.
Foods with Folic Acid and/or Vitamin B12
Swiss cheese
Chicken Eggs
“Your Diet Affects Your Grandchildren's DNA, Scientists Say” By Wanjek
One’s diet (no matter how healthy or not) cannot only effect your genes but the genes of the generations after you.

The future generations will most likely have an increased risk of obesity and other diseases because of our generation’s diet (no matter how healthy the future generation’s diet is).
Evidence from Scientific Studies
Duke University

The University of Groningen

Both Duke University and the University of Groningen’s scientists agree that cells are more likely to be effected by diet in early stages of life versus adulthood.
The Dutch Famine
Children born while the Dutch famine was in progress had a higher risk for glucose intolerance and heart disease later in life.

How high a risk was dependent on the time period the mother was experiencing a food shortage and at what point in the pregnancy.
Epigenetics is a New Field
What is still unknown from these studies is how much information is passed to offspring plus the generations that follow and how much of it is reversed.

A lot of epigenetic imprints are removed during gamete formation, but some are not (for which there is no known reason).

Focus Group
“It is possible that eating more omega-3 fatty acids, choline, betaine, folic acid and vitamin B12, by mothers and fathers, possibly can alter chromatin state and mutations, as well as have beneficial effects…leading to birth of a 'super baby' with long life and [lower risk] of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This is just a possibility, to be proven by more experiments" (Singh, Wanjak paragraph 2012).
Focus Group
How much do college students know about genetics and their health or offspring's health?

How is this information being presented to them in the media if at all?
"More Puffery about Epigenetics..."
Epigenetic changes cannot be inherited through generations because methylated DNA is unstable (unstable DNA cannot be inherited).

If the genome reversed and re-reversed genes, then natural selection and evolution could not function as we know it.

In Conclusion
Local Tissue Micro-Environment
Environmental factors that cause alterations to this environment can alter immune responses and inflammation.

Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are culprits.

High-fat, low-fiber diets can alter the gut micro-biome.

Epigenetics and Food Allergies
Xiumei Hong and Xiaobin Wang
Epigenetic and diet interactions assist in causing food allergies.

Methyl donor acquisition plays a role in the susceptibility of food allergies.

Runt-Related Transcription Factor 3 (RUNX3)
Inhibition of this gene by excess methylation is associated with poor regulation of the allergic airway.

Dietary factors can alter the heritable risk of allergic airway disease by means of epigenetic mechanisms.

Vineis Counter Argument
Epigenetic research is limited.

Focuses on specific risk factors and limited time frames.

In terms of diet: Nutrient imbalance in a given time period without accurately accounting for long term patterns.

"More Puffery About Epigenetics..."
If genetic changes acquired by epigenetic mechanisms are factors in adaption, then they have to be already programmed in the genetic code (for methylation possibly).

They cannot be inherited by environmental factors only without some sort of coding mechanism already in place for the gene.
"More Puffery About Epigenetics..."
Epigenetic changes effected by environment are only supported by a small amount of research that has unstable foundations.

It is possible that epigenetic changes that are evolved from the genome are possible, but not environmental epigenetic changes (Lamarckian epigenetics).
Initial Reaction
Psyc - Skepticism; unrealistic
Hist - "Eat your greens or whatever and you'll grow up to be big and tall."
Omega 3 - Fish oil issue (mercury found in fish in recent years)
Biol - Not possible due to antibodies and other bodily compounds.
"What Comes To Mind When You Think of Genetics?"
Psyc - Family tree
Hist - Genetic Engineering ~
Demolition Man
Chem - Genes being turned on and off.
Hereditary influences
"Do Genes Remain the Same Overtime?"
Chem - Genes stay the same but can turn on and off. Gene expression changes overtime as you get older.
Psyc - "I feel like your environment can definitely change the way your genes work."
Hist - You can be born with one trait, and that trait can change.
Biol - They change overtime.
"Do You Think Diet Effect Your Genes?"
Psyc -Your diet can turn certain genes on and off. (Fat gene)
Chem - Genes can encode for proteins to turn on or off in response to food ingestion.
Hist - Unclear whether genes are at play or the body itself reacting and making adjustments.
Biol - What you eat contributes to inhibition and repression of genes.
"How Do You Feel the Media Portrays Diet and Genetics?"
Chem - "I feel like ... they don't really portray it as being genetics. They portray it more as, like, what you eat - not what you inherit from your parents."
Psyc - Certain foods make you thin regardless of your body's biology.
Hist - Focuses on selling items. You have to investigate yourself.
Biol - Negatively ( Obesity and Down Syndrome)
"Which Drink Has Cancer Fighting Properties?"
Psyc - Green tea

Chem + Hist - Red Wine

Biol - Water
Psyc - Green Tea

Hist and Chem - Red Wine

Biol - Water
Take Away
From our study, college students understand genes can change and that the environment can elicit change, but, overall, there is a lack in understanding the true agents of that change and there immediate effect on future generations.
Alegría-Torres, Jorge Alejandro, Andrea Baccarelli, and Valentina Bollati. "Epigenetics and Lifestyle." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 Aug. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3752894/>.
"More Puffery about Epigenetics, and My Usual Role as Go-to Curmudgeon." Why Evolution Is True. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/more-puffery-about-epigenetics-and-my-usual-role-as-go-to-curmudgeon/>.
Tollefsbol, Trygve O. "Dietary Epigenetics in Cancer and Aging." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24114485>.
Wanjek, Christopher. "Your Diet Affects Your Grandchildren's DNA, Scientists Say." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 27 July 2012. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/21902-diet-epigenetics-grandchildren.html>.

DNA Methylation
Histone Modification
Non-coding mRNA

There is clearly a link between environment and epigenetic mechanisms.

The field is new so a lot more research is needed to discover the unknowns of epigenetics.

There are counterarguments in the filed but that is not uncommon when it comes to science any way.
References Con.
Amarasekera, Manori, et al. “Nutrition in Early Life, Immune-Programming and Allergies: The Role of Epigenetics.” National Institutes of Health: United States National Library of Medicine 31.6 (2013): 175-182. Web. 8 April 2014.
Fleisch, Abby, et al. “Environmental Epigenetics: A Role in Endocrine Disease?” Society for Endocrinology: Journal of Molecular Endocrinology (2012): 61-67. Web. 8 April 2014.
Hong, Xiumei and Xiaobin Wang. “Early Life Precursors, Epigenetics, and the Development of Food Allergy.” National Institutes of Health: United States National Library of Medicine 34.5 (2012): 655-669. Web. 8 April 2014.
Vineis, Paolo, et. al. “The Environmental Roots of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the Epigenetic Impacts of Globalization.” National Institutes of Health: United States National Library of Medicine (2013): 1-6. Web. 8 April 2014.
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