The nutrigenomics nutritional genomics is the study of interaction between nutrition and gene expression Gerald Rimbach et al., 2008. The research of nutrigenomics is emphasised on the effect of specific nutrients, food components, bioactive compounds or diets on the human gene expression in order to reduce the risk of dietary or lifestyle related diseases. The research and development of nutrigenomics lead to improving quality of life for population. As we know, the study of nutrigenomics could increase the understanding about influences of nutrition on body metabolism and homeostasis. Furthermore, through the research of nutrigenomics could know the way of disturbance for metabolism and homeostasis at the early stage of dietary related diseases, and also discuss the gene expression contribute to such type of disease. Therefore, the community could expand knowledge and understanding of genetic expression, diet and also the occurrence of lifestyle diseases. The affection of genetic variation in human on the nutritional requirements can be identified through the study of nutrigenomics. As a result, the research of nutrigenomics caused the occurrence of evidence based dietary interventions and lifestyle advices for the population. This stated dietary and lifestyle interventions are useful to prevent the dietary related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and others. Furthermore, the stated evidence based dietary interventions also help people to restore their health and fitness of body.
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One the common causes of death in the world is CVD, and this CVD has caused 30% of deaths in our country, Malaysia (WHO, 2009). The application of nutrigenomics is one of the ways to prevent CVD in order to decrease prevalence of this disease in the world. So, there are many studies and researches about the nutrigenomics and prevention of CVD have been done currently. One of the food components called as soy isoflavones can improve the CVD associated with abnormal lipid metabolism in a patient. There are three major types of isoflavones occurring in soybean which are genistein, daidzein and glycetein. Furthermore, the isoflavones are group of component naturally occurring in the soybean. The type of isoflavones called as genistein, is potential to improve CVD through activation of peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor, PPARα (Sujong Kim et al., 2004). The peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor, PPARα is one of the nuclear receptor of ligand activated transcription factors. This PPARα can control the transcription process of many genes involved in the lipid catabolism. Therefore, the activation of PPARα would cause the fatty acid catabolism or oxidation to be increased, and then this can also reduce level of circulating lipids in a person. The PPARα is different from other types of nuclear receptors like thyroid hormone receptor in term of the type of ligand to activate it. For the PPARα, it can be activated by several types of ligand like unsaturated fatty acid and also antihyperlipidemic drugs. So, the potential activation effect of genistein on PPARα has been studied.
The genistein, which is one of the major isoflavones, has increased expression of genes involved in the lipid catabolism. According to the Sujong Kim's study, the genes involved in lipid metabolism like carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 which is liver form (CPT1L) in HepG2 cells, its expression has been increased by genistein. Then, this stated gene expression increased by genistein is showed through the real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reactions and also Western blotting analysis. Furthermore, the Sujong Kim's study also suggested that the genistein's effect on lipid catabolism gene expression was estrogen receptor independent. The ICI 182780, which is a potent inhibitor of estrogen receptor, is introduced in the experiment to study its effect on the increased expression in mRNA level of CPT1L by genistein. The study showed that the genistein's effect on gene expression of CPT1L was not changed although there is presence of ICI 182780 in the experiment. Then, for these lipid or fatty acid catabolism genes, there are considered as putative downstream target genes of peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor, PPARα. Therefore, the Sujong Kim's study also carried out experiment to know whether the genistein would modulate the expression of PPARα gene. The study of Sujong Kim showed that the expression of PPARα gene was activated by genistein at both mRNA (transcription) and protein (translation) levels. Moreover, the reporter gene analysis carried out in Sujong Kim's study also showed that the genistein activated the transcriptional activity of PPARα gene. Therefore, the Sujong Kim's study has been shown that the genistein is one of the potential ligand for PPARα in order to prevent or improve the CVD in a patient. The study showed that the genistein can be used as lipid lowering agent through its effect on activation of PPARα, and then increased the lipid or fattiy acid catabolism in a CVD patient who has symptom of abnormal lipid metabolism. The activation of transcriptional activity of PPARα by genistein has induced the hypolipidemic effect and reduced the circulating lipid level. As a result, the risk of CVD can be reduced in a person through the control on lipid metabolism abnormality by intake of soy isoflavones included genistein.
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There are several advantages and disadvantages respectively for application of nutrigenomics in prevention of diseases. Firstly, the application of nutrigenomics has improved the quality of live for people. The research and study about nutrigenomics are carried out in order to know the effect of both nutrition and gene expression on the prevention of diseases. As we know, the nutrigenomics can be used for preventing and delaying the onset of diet and lifestyle related diseases such as CVD, diabetes mellitus and also others. Therefore, through prevention of associated diseases can optimise or maintain the body health of a person. Besides that, the application of nutrigenomics for preventing diseases also has decreased the disease burden in a particular population by reducing the occurrence of diseases among people. Furthermore, the nutrigenomics can also function as supporting element in addition to usage of chemical drug treatment for a disease. The nutrigenomics can be used together with the chemical drug treatment to fasten the recovery from diseases and also prevent further damage caused by particular diseases.
On the other hand, the application of nutrigenomics also has disadvantages. Firstly, the research and development of nutrigenomics are needed long term intervention trials which are time consuming and also costly during the stage of investigating biomarker such as lipid profile in a population related a disease. As a result, there is a need of long term intervention trials in order to assess the causal relationship between nutrition such as particular nutrients, bioactive compounds and others with the prevention and also outcome of diseases (Lydia Afman et al., 2006). Next, the studies about the nutrigenomics to prevent lifestyle related chronic diseases are also required large number of study populations of patients and controls. As we know, the chronic diseases like CVD, cancer and diabetes mellitus are multifactorial diseases which are caused by multiple genetic and also environmental factors. Such multigenetic diseases are known as diseases caused by a combination of genetic variants in multiple susceptibility genes. Furthermore, such different combinations of gene variants would lead to similar disease phenotype. Then, there are also several modulator effects of the dietary components on the stated phenotype by a genetic variation. As a result, there is a need of large population study to investigate the combination of genetic variants and effects of nutrients in relation to diseases. Besides that, the research of nutrigenomics also needs the experimental approaches that are more efficiently deal with the biological complexity of phenotype, complexity of dietary intakes and also differing genetics background among all participants in the nutrigenomics' studies.
The application of nutrigenomics is also raised the ethical, legal and social issues. This ethical problem occurred when the consumer accesses to an unreliable nutrigenetic tests provided to community. There are potential harms associated with direct-to-consumer marketing of nutrigenetic tests. Besides that, the consumers in community could also cheated by those unproven nutrigenomic products. There are ethical or legal issues arising when the consumers are cheated by the unfounded or false claims about the nutrigenomics effect of products. Next, the nutrigenomics field still has its limitation that the specific personalised nutritional recommendation based on the genetic information is difficult to provide to all people as compared to application of nutrigenomics on public health. Actually, there may be more practical and effective to focus on the subgroups of people who share certain common genetic traits currently. In conclusion, there is a need of further research and development and also associated regulation on the nutrigenomics field should be done by responsible aspects included government. So, nutrigenomics application could be fully developed to prevent diseases and also reduced the ethical, legal also social issues about the usage of nutrigenetic tests and products in our community.