Projects per year
Background: Nutrition research is facing several challenges with respect to finding diet related health effects. The effects of nutrition on health are subtle, show high interindividual variations in response, and can take long before they become visual. Recently, the definition of health has been redefined as an organism’s ability to adapt to challenges and ‘this definition’ can be extended to metabolic health. In the metabolic context the ability to adapt has been named ‘phenotypic flexibility’. A potential new tool to magnify the effects of diet on health is the application of challenge tests. Combined with a comprehensive tool such as transcriptomics, the study of challenge tests before and after an intervention might be able to test a change in phenotypic flexibility. A dietary intervention well-known to improve health through weight loss is energy restriction (ER). ER can be used as a model to examine the potential of challenge tests in combination with transcriptomics to magnify diet-induced effects on health. As opposed to ER, caloric restriction (CR) is a reduction in energy intake aimed at improving health and life span in non-obese subjects and not directly aimed at weight loss. In this thesis, we aimed to investigate the use of the transcriptome as an early and sensitive marker of diet-related health.
Methods: First we studied the consequences of age on the effects of CR on the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) transcriptome. For that purpose, we compared the changes in gene expression in PBMCs from old men with the changes in gene expression in PBMCs from young men upon three weeks of 30% CR. To study the effect of a change in dietary composition during ER, we compared the changes in gene expression upon a 12 weeks high protein 25% ER diet with the changes in gene expression upon a 12 weeks normal protein 25% ER diet in white adipose tissue (WAT). Next, we investigated the added value of measuring the PBMC transcriptome during challenge tests compared to measuring the PBMC transcriptome in the fasted state to magnify the effects of ER on health. This was investigated by measuring the changes in gene expression upon an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and upon a mixed meal test (MMT), both before and after 12 weeks of 20% ER. Finally, we determined the differences between a challenge test consisting of glucose alone, the OGTT, or consisting of glucose plus other macronutrients, the MMT, on the PBMC transcriptome in diet-related health.
Results: We observed that the transcriptome of PBMCs of healthy young men had a higher responsiveness in immune response pathways compared to the transcriptome of PBMCs of aged men upon CR (chapter 2). Also, we showed that upon a normal protein-ER diet the transcriptome of WAT showed a decrease in pathways involved in immune response and inflammasome, whereas no such effect was found upon a high protein-ER diet. These effect were observed while parameters such as weight loss, glucose, and waist circumference did not change due to the different protein quantities (chapter 3). 12 weeks of 20% ER was shown to increase phenotypic flexibility as reflected by a faster and more pronounced downregulation of OXPHOS, cell adhesion, and DNA replication during the OGTT compared to the control diet (chapter 4). Finally, two challenge tests consisting of either glucose (OGTT) or glucose plus fat and protein (MMT), were shown to result in a larger overlap than difference in the changes in gene expression of PBMCs (chapter 5).
Conclusions: Based on the differential changes in gene expression upon CR at different ages, we concluded that age is an important modulator in the response to CR. As a high protein ER diet induced transcriptional changes seemed to reflect less beneficial health effects than a normal protein ER diet we concluded that the diet composition is important in the health-effect of ER as measured by the transcriptome. Based on the faster PBMCs changes in gene expression during an OGTT upon 12 weeks of 20% ER, we concluded that the PBMC transcriptome combined with a challenge test can reflect changes in phenotypic flexibility. This makes challenge tests a suitable tool to study diet-related health effects. Finally, based on the changes in gene expression of the MMT and OGTT, we conclude that glucose in a challenge test is the main denominator of the postprandial changes in gene expression in the first two hours. Overall, these results lead to the conclusion that the transcriptome, especially in combination with challenges test, can be used as an early marker of diet-related health. The direct relation to health still needs to be investigated, but the possibility to use the transcriptome as an early marker of diet-related health gives rise to a better understanding of the effects of nutrition on health.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||6 Apr 2017|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
- energy restricted diets
- energy intake
- gene expression
- food composition
- human nutrition research