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Whole grains are known to influence postprandial glucose response and insulin demand and are inversely associated with diabetes risk. Genetic variation of the transcription factor-7-like 2 encoding gene (TCF7L2) is assumed to promote an early insulin secretory defect and has been consistently attributed to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The present study examined the hypothesis that the protective effect of whole grains might be attenuated in the presence of the rs7903146 risk-conferring T-allele. We employed a case–cohort study of 2318 randomised individuals and 724 incident type 2 diabetes cases from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam cohort. Multivariate Cox regression was used to estimate relative risks of diabetes including product terms testing for the genotype-specific effect modification of dietary whole grain. Dietary intake of whole grains was assessed by a validated FFQ. The TCF7L2 rs7903146 T-allele was associated with type 2 diabetes (hazard ratio = 1·51; 95 % CI 1·21, 1·87) and modified the inverse association between whole-grain intake and diabetes risk (P = 0·016 for interaction). While whole-grain intake was inversely associated with diabetes risk among rs7903146 CC homozygote carriers (hazard ratio for 50 g portion per d = 0·86; 95 % CI 0·75, 0·99), the T-allele negated the protective effect of whole-grain intake (hazard ratio among T-allele carriers for 50 g portion per d = 1·08; 95 % CI 0·96, 1·23). These data provide evidence that the beneficial effect of whole-grain intake on diabetes risk is modified by TCF7L2 rs7903146.
Personalised, genotype-based nutrition is a concept that links genotyping with specific nutritional advice in order to improve the prevention of nutrition-associated, chronic diseases. This review describes the current scientific basis of the concept and discusses its problems. There is convincing evidence that variant genes may indeed determine the biological response to nutrients. The effects of single-gene variants on risk or risk factor levels of a complex disease are, however, usually small and sometimes inconsistent. Thus, information on the effects of combinations of relevant gene variants appears to be required in order to improve the predictive precision of the genetic information. Furthermore, very few associations between genotype and response have been tested for causality in human intervention studies, and little is known about potential adverse effects of a genotype-derived intervention. These issues need to be addressed before genotyping can become an acceptable method to guide nutritional recommendations.
Nutrigenomics is the study of how constituents of the diet interact with genes, and their products, to alter phenotype and, conversely, how genes and their products metabolise these constituents into nutrients, antinutrients, and bioactive compounds. Results from molecular and genetic epidemiological studies indicate that dietary unbalance can alter gene–nutrient interactions in ways that increase the risk of developing chronic disease. The interplay of human genetic variation and environmental factors will make identifying causative genes and nutrients a formidable, but not intractable, challenge. We provide specific recommendations for how to best meet this challenge and discuss the need for new methodologies and the use of comprehensive analyses of nutrient–genotype interactions involving large and diverse populations. The objective of the present paper is to stimulate discourse and collaboration among nutrigenomic researchers and stakeholders, a process that will lead to an increase in global health and wellness by reducing health disparities in developed and developing countries.
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