SpectraCell Blog

Can We Change Our Genetic Expression with Nutrients?

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

DNA Human.jpgRecent evidence suggests that the answer is yes.  Most people understand that we all have inherent genetic predispositions – some as benign as the shape of our nose and others more dangerous such as the tendency toward certain cancers.  However, as research on epigenetics grows, the ability to modulate the expression of certain genes is becoming clearer.  Epigenetics is the study of how our genetic expression is affected by factors other than changes in DNA sequence.  These factors include our environment, including what we eat, supplements we take, toxins, illnesses, even the amount of sunlight to which we are exposed. 

In this study, variations (known by geneticists as polymorphisms) in a specific gene that makes a protein called the zinc transporter 8 (ZNT8), which carries zinc into the hormone insulin, were studied. This protein ZNT8 is responsible for ensuring that pancreatic beta cells (the cells that make insulin which allows us to metabolize blood sugar) have adequate zinc available.  If cells in the pancreas do not have enough zinc, they will not function optimally which may ultimately result in higher risk of insulin resistance and the metabolic dysfunction that follows.  

When participants with the (CC) genotype ingested more zinc and omega 3 fatty acids, they lowered their risk of metabolic syndrome consequences associated with their genotype. Stated differently, people with this specific genotype (CC) responded well (in terms of improved insulin sensitivity and metabolic health) to higher levels of zinc and omega 3 fatty acids, while other genotypes (CT or TT) did not show a meaningful improvement in metabolism.  Since over-supplementation has potentially negative consequences (too much zinc can cause copper deficiency, for example), knowing your genotype may lead to more informed supplementation decisions. 

For more details, click here for a link to the abstract entitled Some dietary factors can modulate the effect of the zinc transporters 8 polymorphism on the risk of metabolic syndrome published in the May 2017 issue of Scientific Reports  (Abstract 2640).  Or read the full paper here.  (Full paper 829)

 

Adapted from July 2017 Clinical Updates.  9/27/2017.  (NLH)

Topics: micronutrients, Epigenetics, Gene Expression, Gene Expression and Nutrition, Genetic Predisposition

Can Excess Weight Influence Gene Expression?

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 02:34 PM

DNA Strand 2.jpgNew research suggests that the answer to this question is YES.  As you might have noticed, a lot of information regarding the impact of environment on genes has been published recently. Take cancer, for example. One may be genetically predisposed to a certain cancer that runs in one’s family.  However, simply possessing this gene does not determine one’s health outcomes or health destiny. It has become clear that in many cases, we can profoundly compensate for the genetic hand that we been dealt by controlling our environment.  Smoking is a clear example: it is common knowledge that abstaining from cigarette smoking dramatically reduces one’s risk for lung cancer. This is a widely understood and powerful example of epigenetics, a concept referring to the idea that environment influences genetic expression. This represents a departure from the traditional view of genetics. Scientists now know that it’s not simply a matter of whether one carries a gene for a disease (cancer, heart disease, dementia, etc), but whether one expresses that gene. And whether we express that gene has much to do with our lifestyle choices (environment) – these lifestyle factors may influence genes in a way that disease does not manifest.  Another way of saying this is that we are not entirely at the mercy of our genes.

So, what does this have to do with overweight? A recent study demonstrated that high BMI (body mass index) due to excess fat can modify a person’s DNA in several places on the DNA strand. These changes resulted from an alteration in methylation patterns (methylation is a process where methyl groups are added at specific sites in DNA molecules and is influenced by the cellular environment). Inflammation and micronutrient availability within cells are examples of these alterations that affect methylation patterns. This study confirms that cellular environment – specifically, excess fat tissue – affects genetic expression. Carrying excess weight can therefore impact genetic expression.  

For more details, download the abstract entitled, Epigenome-wide association study of body mass index, and the adverse outcomes of adiposity, published in the January 2017 issue of Nature.  (Abstract 2581)


 

Topics: MTHFR Genotyping, Epigenetics, Environmental Influence on Gene Expression