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Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Gruber, Lisa MSc; Lichti, Pia MSc; Rath, Eva PhD; Haller, Dirk PhD

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: October 2012 - Volume 46 - Issue 9 - p 735–747
doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31825ca21a
Clinical Reviews

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are chronically relapsing, immune-mediated disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. A major challenge in the treatment of IBD is the heterogenous nature of these pathologies. Both, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are of multifactorial etiology and feature a complex interaction of host genetic susceptibility and environmental factors such as diet and gut microbiota. Genome-wide association studies identified disease-relevant single-nucleotide polymorphisms in approximately 100 genes, but at the same time twin studies also clearly indicated a strong environmental impact in disease development. However, attempts to link dietary factors to the risk of developing IBD, based on epidemiological observations showed controversial outcomes. Yet, emerging high-throughput technologies implying complete biological systems might allow taking nutrient-gene interactions into account for a better classification of patient subsets in the future. In this context, 2 new scientific fields, “nutrigenetics” and “nutrigenomics” have been established. “Nutrigenetics,” studying the effect of genetic variations on nutrient-gene interactions and “Nutrigenomics,” describing the impact of nutrition on physiology and health status on the level of gene transcription, protein expression, and metabolism. It is hoped that the integration of both research areas will promote the understanding of the complex gene-environment interaction in IBD etiology and in the long-term will lead to personalized nutrition for disease prevention and treatment. This review briefly summarizes data on the impact of nutrients on intestinal inflammation, highlights nutrient-gene interactions, and addresses the potential of applying “omic” technologies in the context of IBD.

Technische Universität München, ZIEL—Research Center for Nutrition and Food Science, CDD—Center for Diet and Disease, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany

The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.

Reprints: Dirk Haller, PhD, Technische Universität München, Chair for Biofunctionality, ZIEL—Research Center for Nutrition and Food Science, CDD—Center for Diet and Disease, Gregor-Mendel-Str. 2, 85350 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany (e-mail: haller@wzw.tum.de).

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.