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On October 9, 2012

Update: Nutrigenomics and molecular nutrition

Recent studies in the fledgling field of nutrigenomics have shown key changes on the molecular level with the aid of chemical compounds and specific diets

According to the Petfood Forum Europe presentation, "New Frontiers in Nutrition for Pet Health: The role of Nutrigenomics" by Dr. Peter Spring and Dr. Richard Murphy, nutrigenomics can be defined as how diet influences gene transcription, protein expression and metabolism, ultimately providing personalized nutrition for maintenance of an animal's health and the prevention of disease. The science of nutrigenomics seeks to provide a molecular understanding for how common dietary chemicals affect health by altering the expression and/or structure of an animal's genetic makeup. Nutrigenomics and the field of molecular nutrition is a very young one - the first dog genome was fully sequenced only in 2005 (the human genome was only fully sequenced in 2003).

According to Dr. Spring, an efficient way to do nutrigenomic testing is with DNA microarray technology. This technology evaluates the expression profile of thousands of genes within a single experiment and shows which genes are upregulated, downregulated or unchanged in response to a given formula or ingredient. Microarray techniques are also less invasive, provide more informative research and can determine many specific data, such as:

  • The minimal, optimal and toxic concentration levels of nutrients
  • The efficacy and toxicity of new ingredients
  • The effect of nutrition on development, prevention and treatment of complex diseases

For example, in a joint health and cartilage degeneration microarray study, eicosapentaenoic acid proved to alter the action of a degenerative enzyme that causes cartilage degradation (Lorenz, et al. 2004). Another study (Kappel, et al. 2005) showed an improved fiber digestibility…

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