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Journal: Genes & nutrition


We aimed to explore whether vegetable consumption according to guidelines has beneficial health effects determined with classical biomarkers and nutrigenomics technologies. Fifteen lean (age 36 ± 7 years; BMI 23.4 ± 1.7 kg m(-2)) and 17 obese (age 40 ± 6 years; BMI 30.3 ± 2.4 kg m(-2)) men consumed 50- or 200-g vegetables for 4 weeks in a randomized, crossover trial. Afterward, all subjects underwent 4 weeks of energy restriction (60 % of normal energy intake). Despite the limited weight loss of 1.7 ± 2.4 kg for the lean and 2.1 ± 1.9 kg for the obese due to energy restriction, beneficial health effects were found, including lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HbA1c concentrations. The high vegetable intake resulted in increased levels of plasma amino acid metabolites, decreased levels of 9-HODE and prostaglandin D3 and decreased levels of ASAT and ALP compared to low vegetable intake. Adipose tissue gene expression changes in response to vegetable intake were identified, and sets of selected genes were submitted to network analysis. The network of inflammation genes illustrated a central role for NFkB in (adipose tissue) modulation of inflammation by increased vegetable intake, in lean as well as obese subjects. In obese subjects, high vegetable intake also resulted in changes related to energy metabolism, adhesion and inflammation. By inclusion of sensitive omics technologies and comparing the changes induced by high vegetable intake with changes induced by energy restriction, it has been shown that part of vegetables' health benefits are mediated by changes in energy metabolism, inflammatory processes and oxidative stress.

Concepts: Inflammation, Gene, Amino acid, Metabolism, Nutrition, Atherosclerosis, Obesity, Weight loss


Energy homeostasis is regulated by the hypothalamus but fails when animals are fed a high-fat diet (HFD), and leptin insensitivity and obesity develops. To elucidate the possible mechanisms underlying these effects, a microarray-based transcriptomics approach was used to identify novel genes regulated by HFD and leptin in the mouse hypothalamus.


Biomarkers of food intake (BFIs) are a promising tool for limiting misclassification in nutrition research where more subjective dietary assessment instruments are used. They may also be used to assess compliance to dietary guidelines or to a dietary intervention. Biomarkers therefore hold promise for direct and objective measurement of food intake. However, the number of comprehensively validated biomarkers of food intake is limited to just a few. Many new candidate biomarkers emerge from metabolic profiling studies and from advances in food chemistry. Furthermore, candidate food intake biomarkers may also be identified based on extensive literature reviews such as described in the guidelines for Biomarker of Food Intake Reviews (BFIRev). To systematically and critically assess the validity of candidate biomarkers of food intake, it is necessary to outline and streamline an optimal and reproducible validation process. A consensus-based procedure was used to provide and evaluate a set of the most important criteria for systematic validation of BFIs. As a result, a validation procedure was developed including eight criteria, plausibility, dose-response, time-response, robustness, reliability, stability, analytical performance, and inter-laboratory reproducibility. The validation has a dual purpose: (1) to estimate the current level of validation of candidate biomarkers of food intake based on an objective and systematic approach and (2) to pinpoint which additional studies are needed to provide full validation of each candidate biomarker of food intake. This position paper on biomarker of food intake validation outlines the second step of the BFIRev procedure but may also be used as such for validation of new candidate biomarkers identified, e.g., in food metabolomic studies.


Identification of new biomarkers of food and nutrient intake has developed fast over the past two decades and could potentially provide important new tools for compliance monitoring and dietary intake assessment in nutrition and health science. In recent years, metabolomics has played an important role in identifying a large number of putative biomarkers of food intake (BFIs). However, the large body of scientific literature on potential BFIs outside the metabolomics area should also be taken into account. In particular, we believe that extensive literature reviews should be conducted and that the quality of all suggested biomarkers should be systematically evaluated. In order to cover the literature on BFIs in the most appropriate and consistent manner, there is a need for appropriate guidelines on this topic. These guidelines should build upon guidelines in related areas of science while targeting the special needs of biomarker methodology. This document provides a guideline for conducting an extensive literature search on BFIs, which will provide the basis to systematically validate BFIs. This procedure will help to prioritize future work on the identification of new potential biomarkers and on validating these as well as other biomarker candidates, thereby providing better tools for future studies in nutrition and health.

Concepts: Health, Nutrition, Eating, Future, Food, Science, Biomarker, Conducting


Nutrigenetic research examines the effects of inter-individual differences in genotype on responses to nutrients and other food components, in the context of health and of nutrient requirements. A practical application of nutrigenetics is the use of personal genetic information to guide recommendations for dietary choices that are more efficacious at the individual or genetic subgroup level relative to generic dietary advice. Nutrigenetics is unregulated, with no defined standards, beyond some commercially adopted codes of practice. Only a few official nutrition-related professional bodies have embraced the subject, and, consequently, there is a lack of educational resources or guidance for implementation of the outcomes of nutrigenetic research. To avoid misuse and to protect the public, personalised nutrigenetic advice and information should be based on clear evidence of validity grounded in a careful and defensible interpretation of outcomes from nutrigenetic research studies. Evidence requirements are clearly stated and assessed within the context of state-of-the-art ‘evidence-based nutrition’. We have developed and present here a draft framework that can be used to assess the strength of the evidence for scientific validity of nutrigenetic knowledge and whether ‘actionable’. In addition, we propose that this framework be used as the basis for developing transparent and scientifically sound advice to the public based on nutrigenetic tests. We feel that although this area is still in its infancy, minimal guidelines are required. Though these guidelines are based on semi-quantitative data, they should stimulate debate on their utility. This framework will be revised biennially, as knowledge on the subject increases.

Concepts: DNA, Scientific method, Genetics, Nutrition, Randomized controlled trial, Nutrient, Essential nutrient, Science


It is widely accepted that metabolic disorders, such as obesity, are closely linked to lifestyle and diet. Recently, the central role played by the intestinal microbiota in human metabolism and in progression of metabolic disorders has become evident. In this context, animal studies and human trials have demonstrated that alterations of the intestinal microbiota towards enhanced energy harvest is a characteristic of the obese phenotype. Many publications, involving both animal studies and clinical trials, have reported on the successful exploitation of probiotics and prebiotics to treat obesity. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these observed anti-obesity effects of probiotics and prebiotic therapies are still obscure. The aim of this mini-review is to discuss the intricate relationship of various factors, including diet, gut microbiota, and host genetics, that are believed to impact on the development of obesity, and to understand how modulation of the gut microbiota with dietary intervention may alleviate obesity-associated symptoms.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Metabolism, Nutrition, Obesity, Digestive system, Escherichia coli, Probiotic


Recently, a great deal of interest has been expressed regarding strategies to tackle worldwide obesity because of its accelerated wide spread accompanied with numerous negative effects on health and high costs. Obesity has been traditionally associated with an imbalance in energy consumed when compared to energy expenditure. However, growing evidence suggests a less simplistic event in which gut microbiota plays a key role. Obesity, in terms of microbiota, is a complicated disequilibrium that presents many unclear complications. Despite this, there is special interest in characterizing compositionally and functionally the obese gut microbiota with the help of in vitro, animal and human studies. Considering the gut microbiota as a factor contributing to human obesity represents a tool of great therapeutic potential. This paper reviews the use of antimicrobials, probiotics, fecal microbial therapy, prebiotics and diet to manipulate obesity through the human gut microbiota and reveals inconsistencies and implications for future study.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Microbiology, Obesity, Escherichia coli, Dieting, Probiotic


Healthy nutrition is accepted as a cornerstone of public health strategies for reducing the risk of noncommunicable conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and related morbidities. However, many research studies continue to focus on single or at most a few factors that may elicit a metabolic effect. These reductionist approaches resulted in: (1) exaggerated claims for nutrition as a cure or prevention of disease; (2) the wide use of empirically based dietary regimens, as if one fits all; and (3) frequent disappointment of consumers, patients, and healthcare providers about the real impact nutrition can make on medicine and health. Multiple factors including environment, host and microbiome genetics, social context, the chemical form of the nutrient, its (bio)availability, and chemical and metabolic interactions among nutrients all interact to result in nutrient requirement and in health outcomes. Advances in laboratory methodologies, especially in analytical and separation techniques, are making the chemical dissection of foods and their availability in physiological tissues possible in an unprecedented manner. These omics technologies have opened opportunities for extending knowledge of micronutrients and of their metabolic and endocrine roles. While these technologies are crucial, more holistic approaches to the analysis of physiology and environment, novel experimental designs, and more sophisticated computational methods are needed to advance our understanding of how nutrition influences health of individuals.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health, Nutrition, Nutrient, Nitrogen, Micronutrient, Ibn al-Nafis


Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within genes of the one-carbon metabolism pathway have been shown to interact with dietary folate intake to modify breast cancer (BC) risk. Our group has previously demonstrated that the Mediterranean dietary pattern, rich in beneficial one-carbon metabolism micronutrients, protects against BC in Greek-Cypriot women. We aimed to investigate whether SNPs in the MTHFR (rs1801133 and rs1801131) and MTR (rs1805087) genes modify the effect of the Mediterranean dietary pattern on BC risk. Dietary intake data were obtained using a 32-item food-frequency questionnaire. A dietary pattern specific to the Greek-Cypriot population, which closely resembles the Mediterranean diet, was derived using principal component analysis (PCA) and used as our dietary variable. Genotyping was performed on subjects from the MASTOS study, a case-control study of BC in Cyprus, using TaqMan assays. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were estimated using logistic regression analyses. High adherence to the PCA-derived Mediterranean dietary pattern further reduced BC risk with increasing number of variant MTHFR 677T alleles (ORQ4vs.Q1 for 677TT = 0.37, 95 % CI 0.20-0.69, for 677 CT = 0.60, 95 % CI 0.42-0.86). Additionally, high adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern decreased BC risk in subjects with at least one MTR 2756A allele (ORQ4vs.Q1 for 2756AA = 0.59, 95 % CI 0.43-0.81, for 2756AG = 0.59, 95 % CI 0.39-0.91) and in subjects with the MTHFR 1298CC genotype (ORQ4vs.Q1 0.44, 95 % CI 0.30-0.65). Overall P-interaction values, however, were not statistically significant. Our study suggests that these MTHFR and MTR SNPs may act as effect modifiers, highlighting their biological significance in the association between Mediterranean diet, the one-carbon metabolism pathway and BC.

Concepts: DNA, Regression analysis, Epidemiology, Allele, Nutrition, Single-nucleotide polymorphism, Genotyping, Mediterranean diet


This commentary is a face-to-face debate between two almost opposite positions regarding the application of genetic engineering in agriculture and food production. Seven questions on the potential benefits of the application of genetic engineering in agriculture and on the potentially adverse impacts on the environment and human health were posed to two scientists: one who is sceptical about the use of GMOs in Agriculture, and one who views GMOs as an important tool for quantitatively and qualitatively improving food production.

Concepts: Scientific method, Genetics, Health, Human, Nutrition, Natural environment, Food, Science