Genes and Diet in the Prevention of Chronic Diseases in Future Generations

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 10;21(7):2633. doi: 10.3390/ijms21072633.


Nutrition is a modifiable key factor that is able to interact with both the genome and epigenome to influence human health and fertility. In particular, specific genetic variants can influence the response to dietary components and nutrient requirements, and conversely, the diet itself is able to modulate gene expression. In this context and the era of precision medicine, nutrigenetic and nutrigenomic studies offer significant opportunities to improve the prevention of metabolic disturbances, such as Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases, even with transgenerational effects. The present review takes into account the interactions between diet, genes and human health, and provides an overview of the role of nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics and epigenetics in the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Moreover, we focus our attention on the mechanism of intergenerational or transgenerational transmission of the susceptibility to metabolic disturbances, and underline that the reversibility of epigenetic modifications through dietary intervention could counteract perturbations induced by lifestyle and environmental factors.

Keywords: epigenetics; gene-nutrient interaction; non-communicable diseases; nutrigenetics; nutrigenomics; transgenerational effect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diet*
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Genetic Background*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Nutrigenomics
  • Nutritional Status
  • Primary Prevention*