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Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Dec 15;80(12):1816-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.07.029. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

Nature or nurture: let food be your epigenetic medicine in chronic inflammatory disorders.

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Laboratory of Eukaryotic Gene Expression and Signal Transduction (LEGEST), Department of Physiology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, Gent, Belgium.


Numerous clinical, physiopathological and epidemiological studies have underlined the detrimental or beneficial role of nutritional factors in complex inflammation related disorders such as allergy, asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Today, nutritional research has shifted from alleviating nutrient deficiencies to chronic disease prevention. It is known that lifestyle, environmental conditions and nutritional compounds influence gene expression. Gene expression states are set by transcriptional activators and repressors and are often locked in by cell-heritable chromatin states. Only recently, it has been observed that the environmental conditions and daily diet can affect transgenerational gene expression via "reversible" heritable epigenetic mechanisms. Epigenetic changes in DNA methylation patterns at CpG sites (epimutations) or corrupt chromatin states of key inflammatory genes and noncoding RNAs, recently emerged as major governing factors in cancer, chronic inflammatory and metabolic disorders. Reciprocally, inflammation, metabolic stress and diet composition can also change activities of the epigenetic machinery and indirectly or directly change chromatin marks. This has recently launched re-exploration of anti-inflammatory bioactive food components for characterization of their effects on epigenome modifying enzymatic activities (acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation, ribosylation, oxidation, ubiquitination, sumoylation). This may allow to improve healthy aging by reversing disease prone epimutations involved in chronic inflammatory and metabolic disorders.

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