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Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 Sep;15(5):442-7. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283567dd2.

Epigenetics: are there implications for personalised nutrition?

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  • 1Academic Unit of Human Development and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Tremona Road, Southampton, UK.



This review critically evaluates recent advances in understanding the role of epigenetics in nutrition. Findings from animal models and human cohorts are discussed in the context of whether or not epigenetics may be an important factor in the progress towards the goal of personalised nutrition.


Maternal dietary fat, folic acid, protein and total energy intakes induce altered epigenetic regulation of specific genes in the offspring which are associated with altered tissue function. Passage of induced phenotypic and epigenetic traits between generations involves intergenerational modifications in the interaction between maternal phenotype and environment. The methylation of specific CpG loci in fetal tissues is associated with differential future risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and variation in adiposity and height. Methylation of specific CpGs in adult blood also marks differential risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and breast cancer. Exercise induces acute changes in the methylation of genes in muscle.


Recent advances indicate that epigenetic variation is an important influence on interactions between nutrients and the genome, which modify disease risk. In contrast to the interaction between nutrition and gene polymorphisms, epigenetic variation can be modified by nutritional interventions to improve health outcomes.

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