Category Archives: Epigenetics

Generational increases in stochastic epigenetic variability to sustained methyl donor supplementation in mice

This recent paper in PLoS Genetics by Cheryl C. Y. Li and colleagues (from a group that did earlier work with the agouti mouse model) was really fascinating- they looked at changes in methylation variability in response to dietary supplementation of methyl donors across multiple generations of mice.  Some very novel and important findings (summary at the bottom). This time, they focused on CpG islands in the whole genome of (C57BL/6) mice fed methyl donors (similar to agouti studies: choline, betaine, Read more [...]

A low-protein paternal diet alters hepatic gene expressions in progeny

Back in October I blogged about a recent paper by Ng et al. suggesting evidence for paternal programming of genes passed to offspring.  Overall, the study wasn't very convincing (in my humble opinion). But recently Carone et al. give some more evidence that the paternal diet influences the offspring, independent of the maternal diet. Male mice were raised on a control diet with 20% protein, or a "low-protein" diet of 11% protein and the 9% made up with sucrose.  Importantly, the authors noted Read more [...]

Bee-havioral epigenetics

A great debate right now that is very relevant to nutrition is to what extent genes vs. environment (or genes in the context of certain environments) influence health and behavior.  The following is an extreme example that cannot be extrapolated to humans, but highlights an interesting co-evolution with dietary constituent(s) that is critical to a species' survival. Two years ago, Kucharski et al. provided an explanation for why the honey bee, Apis mellifera is able to develop into a queen or Read more [...]

Evidence for paternal programming from obesity?

It is well understood that the diet and health status of mothers can affect offspring by epigenetic mechanisms (see this recent review for example).  This is often called "fetal programming." A recent study (published yesterday) suggests there may be a paternal influence as well- epigenetic programming on the offspring based on the health status of the father.  Maybe.  This study has major limitations and it only found an effect on female offspring, and the results certainly aren't anywhere close Read more [...]

Exploring epigenetic modifications in fatty liver with berberine

Last year, I described a study that found an epigenetic mechanism of peripheral insulin resistance through methylation of the PGC-1alpha promoter.  Recently, Chang et al. explored an epigenetic mechanism in non-alcoholic fatty liver. Fatty liver is closely linked with insulin resistance and diabetes as well as obesity.  As it is not yet fully understood, the only effective treatment is lifestyle intervention (exercise and weight loss).  However, one compound that has potential, Berberine, is Read more [...]

Understanding how epigenetics influences weight

In human weight loss studies, response to a given restriction of calories does not produce the same level of weight loss in every subject.  Though genetic factors clearly have some role per monozygotic twin and gene manipulation studies, even then there are differences.  Epigenetics is a likely candidate to explain some of these observations. So, Bouchard et al. (1) studied the effects of restricting calories on epigenomic and transcriptomic responses. 14 overweight/obese women were subjected Read more [...]