Whole-Blood Gene Expression Profiles in Large-scale Epidemiological Studies: What Do They Tell
In nutrigenomics, gene expression profiling is used to investigate transcriptional mechanisms associated with nutrients and diet. Blood samples collected in the framework of dietary interventions and epidemiological studies allow the use of humans as the model system, as opposed to using cell lines or animal models. Here, we review recent publications in the field of gene expression profiling, based on a systematic literature search focusing on studies from the last 5 years and including studies that investigated either single nutrients, foods, food groups, or dietary patterns. Findings highlight the role of inflammatory processes as key mediators of the association between diet and disease and point to the relevance of using blood as the target tissue in nutrigenomics. However, recurring challenges include study design issues, practical and statistical challenges, and biological interpretation of the results. Many of the published studies have small sample size, and given the nature of gene expression data, their conclusions have limited impact. These challenges should be addressed by future nutrigenomics studies in order to increase their relevance and validity.
Accepted manuscript version. The final publication is available at Springer via http://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-015-0143-5.