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Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60 Suppl 3:27-36. doi: 10.1159/000337311. Epub 2012 May 15.

Nutrigenetics and modulation of oxidative stress.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 150 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Oxidative stress develops as a result of an imbalance between the production and accumulation of reactive species and the body's ability to manage them using exogenous and endogenous antioxidants. Exogenous antioxidants obtained from the diet, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids, have important roles in preventing and reducing oxidative stress. Individual genetic variation affecting proteins involved in the uptake, utilization and metabolism of these antioxidants may alter their serum levels, exposure to target cells and subsequent contribution to the extent of oxidative stress. Endogenous antioxidants include the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, paraoxanase, and glutathione S-transferase. These enzymes metabolize reactive species and their by-products, reducing oxidative stress. Variation in the genes coding these enzymes may impact their enzymatic antioxidant activity and, thus, the levels of reactive species, oxidative stress, and risk of disease development. Oxidative stress may contribute to the development of chronic disease, including osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Indeed, polymorphisms in most of the genes that code for antioxidant enzymes have been associated with several types of cancer, although inconsistent findings between studies have been reported. These inconsistencies may, in part, be explained by interactions with the environment, such as modification by diet. In this review, we highlight some of the recent studies in the field of nutrigenetics, which have examined interactions between diet, genetic variation in antioxidant enzymes, and oxidative stress.

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