Genomic and epigenomic insights into nutrition and brain disorders

Nutrients. 2013 Mar 15;5(3):887-914. doi: 10.3390/nu5030887.


Considerable evidence links many neuropsychiatric, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders with multiple complex interactions between genetics and environmental factors such as nutrition. Mental health problems, autism, eating disorders, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease and brain tumours are related to individual variability in numerous protein-coding and non-coding regions of the genome. However, genotype does not necessarily determine neurological phenotype because the epigenome modulates gene expression in response to endogenous and exogenous regulators, throughout the life-cycle. Studies using both genome-wide analysis of multiple genes and comprehensive analysis of specific genes are providing new insights into genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying nutrition and neuroscience. This review provides a critical evaluation of the following related areas: (1) recent advances in genomic and epigenomic technologies, and their relevance to brain disorders; (2) the emerging role of non-coding RNAs as key regulators of transcription, epigenetic processes and gene silencing; (3) novel approaches to nutrition, epigenetics and neuroscience; (4) gene-environment interactions, especially in the serotonergic system, as a paradigm of the multiple signalling pathways affected in neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. Current and future advances in these four areas should contribute significantly to the prevention, amelioration and treatment of multiple devastating brain disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Disorders / genetics*
  • Nutrition Disorders / metabolism