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Epigenetics, Nutrition and Human Health

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Imagine yourself at the scene of a crime where you need to determine the age of a victim or perpetrator. If you are lucky, you will have access to skin or dental tissue, or perhaps anthropometry measures, all of which may help determine an approximate age. However, recent research suggests that you could instead obtain an astonishingly accurate measure of chronological age with an “epigenetic clock” that uses a very small number of epigenetic marks in the genome. This would allow you to pin down a sample’s age to within a few months, irrespective of the tissue from which it was obtained. The field of epigenetics is currently attracting a lot of attention from scientists and the wider public. Epigenetic processes without changing the underlying DNA sequence2 . One such mechanism is DNA methylation of cytosine bases at CpG dinucleotide sites, and there is strong evidence that this can be influenced by a diverse array of intrinsic and environmental factors, including age, disease, stress, exposure to pollutants, and nutrition. Furthermore, epigenetic marks have been associated with a range of diseases affecting health throughout the life course, including cancers, and neurological and metabolic disorders. Together, these observations suggest that our epigenomes carry a “cellular memory” of environmental insults, with the potential for lasting effects on health and disease. Epigenetic changes at certain locations are also believed to be heritable, raising the possibility of trans-generational effects that cannot be explained by standard Mendelian genetics. Describe changes to the genome that can alter gene expression without changing the underlying DNA sequence2 . One such mechanism is DNA methylation of cytosine bases at CpG dinucleotide sites, and there is strong evidence that this can be influenced by a diverse array of intrinsic and environmental factors, including age, disease, stress, exposure to pollutants, and nutrition. Furthermore, epigenetic marks have been associated with a range of diseases affecting health throughout the life course, including cancers, and neurological and metabolic disorders. Together, these observations suggest that our epigenomes carry a “cellular memory” of environmental insults, with the potential for lasting effects on health and disease. Epigenetic changes at certain locations are also believed to be heritable, raising the possibility of trans-generational effects that cannot be explained by standard Mendelian genetics

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Key Details

Year 2015
Authors Philip James, Matt Silver
Language English
Keywords
DOI https://doi.org/10.52439/ZADJ2724
DOI Number 10.52439/ZADJ2724
ISBN
ISSN

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