It’s is easy to blame our parents and their epigenetics whenever we’re struggling to squeeze into our summer swimwear, but a brand new study illustrates how our own dietary choices have a big impact on health. A team from Lund University have shown just how eating fatty acids is not only bad for your waistline, but can induce epigenetic alterations that contribute to impaired insulin secretion and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).
The Swedish researchers investigated the effect of fatty acids on genome wide transcription and DNA methylation by treating human pancreatic islet cells (secretors of insulin) with the long chain saturated fatty acid, Palmitate, for 48hrs and then analyzing the results on both mRNA and DNA methylation arrays. The group saw that Palmitate causes some pretty significant epigenetic and transcriptomic changes.
Here’s the details:
- Large scale transcriptomic changes were seen, with over 1000 deregulated genes.
- Many affected genes were linked to metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis, pyruvate metabolism, and biosynthesis of fatty acids.
- Changes to the DNA methylome corresponded to the altered transcriptomes of almost 300 genes.
Intriguingly, a good number of the genes identified also showed differential expression in those with diabetes. So when it comes down to it, it appears that fatty acids are able elicit epigenomic changes in pancreatic cells, thus creating a gene expression profile that predisposes to obesity and diabetes. But this may not be all bad news, as it opens the door for epigenetic editing to become a more effective diet treatment than any of Dr. Oz’s ‘flowery’ weight loss gimmicks.
Learn more about how too much fat can make you sick in BMC Medicine, June 2014.