The challenges for molecular nutrition research 1: linking genotype to healthy nutrition
Williams, C.M., Ordovas, J.M., Lairon, D., Hesketh, J., Lietz, G., Gibney, M. and van Ommen, B. (2008) The challenges for molecular nutrition research 1: linking genotype to healthy nutrition. Genes and Nutrition, 3 (2). pp. 41-49. ISSN 1555-8932
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s12263-008-0086-1
Nutrition science finds itself at a major crossroad. On the one hand we can continue the current path, which has resulted in some substantial advances, but also many conflicting messages which impair the trust of the general population, especially those who are motivated to improve their health through diet. The other road is uncharted and is being built over the many exciting new developments in life sciences. This new era of nutrition recognizes the complex relation between the health of the individual, its genome, and the life-long dietary exposure, and has lead to the realisation that nutrition is essentially a gene - environment interaction science. This review on the relation between genotype, diet and health is the first of a series dealing with the major challenges in molecular nutrition, analyzing the foundations of nutrition research. With the unravelling of the human genome and the linking of its variability to a multitude of phenotypes from " healthy'' to an enormously complex range of predispositions, the dietary modulation of these propensities has become an area of active research. Classical genetic approaches applied so far in medical genetics have steered away from incorporating dietary effects in their models and paradoxically, most genetic studies analyzing diet-associated phenotypes and diseases simply ignore diet. Yet, a modest but increasing number of studies are accounting for diet as a modulator of genetic associations. These range from observational cohorts to intervention studies with prospectively selected genotypes. New statistical and bioinformatics approaches are becoming available to aid in design and evaluation of these studies. This review discusses the various approaches used and provides concrete recommendations for future research.