Molecular targets for bioactive food components.

Author(s): Milner JA

Journal: J Nutr

Date: 2004 Sep

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): NSRG

PubMed ID: 15333748

PMC ID: not available

Abstract: Mounting evidence points to dietary habits as an important determinant of cancer risk and tumor behavior. Although the linkages with diet are intriguing, the literature is also laden with inconsistencies. The reasons for these inconsistencies are likely multi-factorial, but probably reflect variations in the ability of bioactive constituents to reach or affect critical molecular targets. Fluctuations in the foods consumed not only influence the intake of particular bioactive components, but may alter metabolism and potentially influence the sites of action of both essential and nonessential nutrients. Genetic polymorphisms are increasingly recognized as another factor that can alter the response to dietary components (nutritional transcriptomic effect) by influencing the absorption, metabolism, or sites of action. Likewise, variation in DNA methylation patterns and other epigenetic events that influence overall gene expression can be influenced by dietary intakes. Furthermore, variation in the ability of food components to increase or depress gene expression (nutrigenomic effect) may account for some of the observed inconsistencies in the response to dietary change. Because a host of food components are recognized to influence phosphorylation and other posttranslational events, it is also likely that these and other proteomic modifications account for at least part of the response and variation that is reported in the literature. Collectively, it is clear that bioactive food components can influence a number of key molecular events that are involved in health and disease resistance. As the era of molecular nutrition unfolds, a greater understanding of how these foods and components influence cancer will surely arise. Such information will be critical in the development of effective tailored strategies for reducing cancer burden. Just as important, however, is that as this information unfolds it is utilized within a responsible bioethical framework.