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Transcriptomics and micronutrient research

  • Ruan M. Elliott (a1)


This review examines the extent to which transcriptomic methods have lived up to their promise in the context of nutrition research, placing particular emphasis on examples from micronutrient research. A case is made that the high quality platform technologies now available, together with established standards and systems for data storage and exchange and powerful new methods of data analysis, mean that microarrays have reached a level of technical maturity at which they can be exploited to their full potential. In the context of nutrition and micronutrient research, transcriptomic methods have already been widely applied, albeit primarily in studies using cell lines and animal models. Using this type of approach, a multitude of genes regulated at the mRNA level by dietary components has been identified and this, in turn, has provided new insights into the biological processes affected by nutritional parameters. Evidence from the very limited number of published transcriptomics-based nutritional studies performed in human volunteers suggests that, with appropriate study design, it is feasible to apply transcriptomic methods successfully in dietary intervention trials. On the other hand, gene expression-based biomarker development still poses a major challenge. Here the use of expression profile ‘signatures’, rather than single genes, may provide a solution. Approaches designed to identify such ‘signatures’ are being developed and tested widely, primarily in the context of medical research. The applicability and power of such approaches should also be evaluated in the context of nutrition.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Dr Ruan Elliott, fax 01603 507723, email


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