Differences in transcriptional responses to acute and chronic dietary interventions with fatty acids

Juri C. Matualatupauw

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Various types of dietary fatty acids have different effects on human health. The aim of this thesis was to increase our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of dietary fatty acids. To do this, we examined changes in whole genome gene expression profiles upon both acute as well as longer term dietary fatty acid interventions. Furthermore, from previous research, it is clear that large inter-individual differences in the response to dietary fatty acids exist. We used whole genome gene expression analyses to increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying some of these inter-individual differences.

Many modifiable and non-modifiable factors can be the cause of these inter-individual differences. In chapter 2, we reviewed all studies that examined differences in the transcriptional response to dietary interventions based on the presence of one of these factors. These include gender, age, BMI, body composition, blood lipid levels and gut microbial composition. We conclude that transcriptome analyses are well-suited for studying the underlying mechanisms behind these differences in the response to diet. Nevertheless, the number of studies that use this approach remains limited.

Another factor that may modify the response to a dietary intervention is genetics, e.g. the apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) variant. People who carry the APOE4 allele have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Fish-oil supplementation may help in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, though inter-individual differences in the response to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on gene expression profiles have been observed. In chapter 3, we aimed to assess the impact of APOE4 on peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) whole genome gene expression at baseline and following a 6-month fish-oil intervention. We observed increased gene expression of IFN signaling and cholesterol biosynthesis pathways in APOE4 carriers, which might explain part of the association between APOE4 and CVD. Furthermore, fish-oil supplementation may be beneficial by decreasing interferon signalling-related gene expression in APOE4 carriers.

Another long-term dietary intervention with fatty acids was studied in chapter 4. We examined the effect of a 12-week high medium-chain saturated fatty acid diet on subcutaneous adipose tissue gene expression profiles. We observed increased expression of genes involved in oxidative energy metabolism and decreased inflammation-related gene expression due to the high medium-chain saturated fatty acid intake. Considering the role of the adipose tissue in sustaining the low-grade inflammation that is associated with obesity, these findings may be indicative of a more anti-inflammatory phenotype of the adipose tissue. We concluded that medium-chain saturated fatty acids may potentially have beneficial effects on adipose tissue functioning.

Besides studying the effects of long-term interventions with fatty acids on whole genome gene expression, we also examined the effects of acute high-fat challenges. In chapter 5, we determined the additional value of determining whole genome gene expression changes in response to a high-fat challenge compared to assessment at fasting only. In addition, we aimed to identify whether a 4 week high-fat high-calorie diet can induce a shift in gene expression profiles in healthy subjects towards a metabolic syndrome-like gene expression profile. We found that fasting whole blood whole genome gene expression profiles are highly responsive to a 4-week high-fat high-calorie diet, with changes in in the direction of a metabolic syndrome-like gene expression profile. High-fat challenge responses in healthy subjects show only minimal changes in gene expression upon the dietary intervention and a marginal shift in the direction of the metabolic syndrome. We concluded that fasting gene expression profiles are more responsive compared to high-fat challenge responses to a 4-week high-fat high-calorie diet.

Besides chapter 5, several other studies have also examined changes in whole genome gene expression in blood cells induced by high-fat challenges. In chapter 6, we combined microarray data from four high-fat challenge studies varying in study population, challenge composition and research laboratory. By performing this meta-analysis, we showed a general PBMC whole genome gene expression response to a high-fat challenge. We concluded that a meta-analysis provides added value for the discovery of consistently differentially expressed genes and pathways compared to selecting only those genes and pathways that are identified in all separate studies.

In conclusion, in this thesis we showed differences in the whole genome gene expression response to fish-oil supplementation in PBMCs of APOE4 carriers vs non-carriers. Furthermore, the effects on whole genome gene expression of the two long-term dietary interventions, i.e. the fish-oil supplementation in PBMCs of APOE4 carriers and the high medium-chain saturated fatty acid diet in adipose tissue, may be beneficial by downregulation of gene expression related to inflammation. We also showed that whole genome gene expression responses to high-fat challenges are affected by a 4-week high-fat high-calorie diet, though changes in fasting gene expression profiles are much more pronounced. Finally, we showed the value of meta-analysis of microarray data in high-fat challenge studies for identifying the general response to a high-fat challenge.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Kersten, Sander, Promotor
  • Afman, Lydia, Co-promotor
  • Bouwman, J., Co-promotor, External person
Award date6 Jun 2017
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789463432078
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • fatty acids
  • gene expression
  • genotyping
  • phenotypes
  • nutritional intervention
  • transcriptomics
  • fish oils
  • apolipoprotein e
  • adipose tissue
  • microarrays
  • polymerase chain reaction

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