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expert reaction to study investigating link between diet and epigenetic changes in mice

In a study published in Science, scientists have looked at how diet is linked to epigenetic changes in mice.

Prof Wolf Reik, Head of Epigenetics Programme, Babraham Institute, said:

“Whilst this study tells us about the mechanism of how diet interacts with epigenetics and genetics, it does not tell us anything about diet itself – so this study does not mean that people should be seeking a high protein diet. What is interesting in this study is that they found an altered epigenetic state (DNA methylation) at the rDNA locus (which regulates protein levels in the cell), which occurred in response to altered nutrition (early life under-nourishment in this case). But this response also depended on the genotype of the rDNA itself. So it illustrates how nutritional changes might impact on healthy development and ageing through both epigenetic and genetic factors. What is also really interesting is that the rDNA locus is a conserved genomic target of nutritional change from yeast to mammals, so this seems to be an important general mechanism for adaptation.


* ‘Gene-environment induced epigenetic dynamics at rDNA in the mouse’ by Holland et al. will be published in Science on Thursday 7th July.


Declared interests

Prof Wolf Reik: No conflicts of interest

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