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Epigenetic age acceleration (AA) has been associated with adverse environmental exposures and many chronic conditions. We estimated, in the NINFEA birth cohort, infant saliva epigenetic age, and investigated whether parental socio-economic position (SEP) and pregnancy outcomes are associated with infant epigenetic AA. A total of 139 saliva samples collected at on average 10.8 (range 7–17) months were used to estimate Horvath’s DNA methylation age. Epigenetic AA was defined as the residual from a linear regression of epigenetic age on chronological age. Linear regression models were used to test the associations of parental SEP and pregnancy outcomes with saliva epigenetic AA. A moderate positive association was found between DNA methylation age and chronological age, with the median absolute difference of 6.8 months (standard deviation [SD] 3.9). The evidence of the association between the indicators of low SEP and epigenetic AA was weak; infants born to unemployed mothers or with low education had on average 1 month higher epigenetic age than infants of mothers with high education and employment (coefficient 0.78 months, 95% confidence intervals [CIs]: −0.79 to 2.34 for low/medium education; 0.96, 95% CI: −1.81 to 3.73 for unemployment). There was no evidence for association of gestational age, birthweight or caesarean section with infant epigenetic AA. Using the Horvath’s method, DNA methylation age can be fairly accurately predicted from saliva samples already in the first months of life. This study did not reveal clear associations between either pregnancy outcomes or parental socio-economic characteristics and infant saliva epigenetic AA.
A greater adherence to the traditional Mediterranean (MED) diet is associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases. This dietary pattern is based on higher consumption of plant products that are rich in flavonoids. We compared the total flavonoid dietary intakes, their food sources and various lifestyle factors between MED and non-MED countries participating in the EPIC study. Flavonoid intakes and their food sources for 35 628 subjects, aged 35–74 years and recruited between 1992 and 2000, in twenty-six study centres were estimated using standardised 24 h dietary recall software (EPIC-Soft®). An ad hoc food composition database on flavonoids was compiled using analytical data from the United States Department of Agriculture and Phenol-Explorer databases. Moreover, it was expanded to include using recipes, estimations of missing values and flavonoid retention factors. No significant differences in total flavonoid mean intake between non-MED countries (373·7 mg/d) and MED countries (370·2 mg/d) were observed. In the non-MED region, the main contributors were proanthocyanidins (48·2 %) and flavan-3-ol monomers (24·9 %) and the principal food sources were tea (25·7 %) and fruits (32·8 %). In the MED region, proanthocyanidins (59·0 %) were by far the most abundant contributor and fruits (55·1 %), wines (16·7 %) and tea (6·8 %) were the main food sources. The present study shows similar results for total dietary flavonoid intakes, but significant differences in flavonoid class intakes, food sources and some characteristics between MED and non-MED countries. These differences should be considered in studies about the relationships between flavonoid intake and chronic diseases.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can be effective in the reduction of oxidative stress, through the antioxidant effects of phytochemicals and other mechanisms. Protection against the carcinogenic effects of chemicals may also be exerted by an enhancement of detoxification and DNA damage repair mechanisms. To investigate a putative effect of flavonoids, a class of polyphenols, on the regulation of the gene expression of DNA repair and metabolic genes, a 1-month flavonoid-rich diet was administered to thirty healthy male smokers, nine of whom underwent gene expression analysis. We postulated that tobacco smoke is a powerful source of reactive oxygen species. The expression level of twelve genes (APEX, ERCC1, ERCC2, ERCC4, MGMT, OGG1, XPA, XPC, XRCC1, XRCC3, AHR, CYP1A1) was investigated. We found a significant increase (P < 0·001) in flavonoid intake. Urinary phenolic content and anti-mutagenicity did not significantly change after diet, nor was a correlation found between flavonoid intake and urinary phenolic levels or anti-mutagenicity. Phenolic levels showed a significant positive correlation with urinary anti-mutagenicity. AHR levels were significantly reduced after the diet (P = 0·038), whereas the other genes showed a generalized up regulation, significant for XRCC3 gene (P = 0·038). Also in the context of a generalized up regulation of DNA repair genes, we found a non-significant negative correlation between flavonoid intake and the expression of all the DNA repair genes. Larger studies are needed to clarify the possible effects of flavonoids in vivo; our preliminary results could help to better plan new studies on gene expression and diet.
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