RG5: Ecogenetics and Human Health

Ecogenetics and Human Health will focus on the understanding of how environmental factors interact with the individual’s genetic pool and vice-versa, modulating the expression of intermediate as well as distant phenotypes and health risk. This research will address leading behavioural factors acting on this complex interaction (diet, and tobacco, alcohol and coffee consumption), several other environmental factors (vg light and noise that can modify genetic expression at the signal transduction level), and the environmental exposure to virus that can equally affect the immune response which in turn is genotipically defined and variable

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Coordinator and Team

 

Objectives

The overall aim of the RG ‘Ecogenetics and Human Health’ is to undertake a differential analysis of intermediate and distant phenotypes according to Mendelian randomization (genetic polymorphisms) in interaction with physical, dietary and microbiological environmental factors:

  • To assess the effect of diet on nitric oxide bioavailability in sickle cell disease
  • To assess the effect of diet on nitric oxide bioavailability in hypertension
  • To identify the prevalence of salt sensitive hypertension according to salt consumption levels
  • To identify the effect of diet during gestation over the future cardiovascular prognosis in the women.
  • To study the susceptibility to macro and microvascular complications of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus according to macro and micronutrient intake
  • To identify the age related macular degeneration risk, according to light exposure and macro and micronutrient intake
  • To assess the age related deafness risk in interaction with environmental factors
  • To estimate the association of environmental factors with longevity
  • To study the susceptibility for psoriasis and its evolution to cardiovascular disease, in association with physical environmental factors and diet
  • To study the susceptibility to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection related diseases in interaction with microbiological, nutritional and xenobiotic environmental factors (eg. Tobacco, coffee and alcohol).

 

Another aim of this RG is to participate in the development of knowledge transfer, promoting as much as possible dissemination of research findings and their application in teaching, support decision and market end-users.

 

Organisational Structure

Over the last decade the development of modern techniques of high performance genetic analysis has enabled to improve the understanding of how environmental factors interact with the individual’s genetic pool and vice-versa, modulating the expression of intermediate as well as distant phenotypes and health risk.

The leading behavioural factors most studied acting on this complex interaction are diet, tobacco use, alcohol and coffee consumption. However there are several other environmental factors such as light and noise that can modify genetic expression at the signal transduction level. The environmental exposure to virus can equally affect the immune response which in turn is genotipically defined and variable.

According to these gene-environment interactions the Mendelian randomization perspective explains that if the allelic variants modify or mirror the biological effects of a variable environmental exposure in a way that changes the health risk, then these allelic variants should be related to the disease risk predicted by its influence on the exposure to the risk factor. An allelic variant can be used to study the effect of a suspected environmental exposure with relevance on the health risk, thereby reducing the confounding effects of behavioural, social and physiological factors. This way, it is possible to strengthen the evidence drawn from the environment-gene interaction studies describing its modulatory effects in genetic expression.

The group leader will meet twice a year with the leaders of the other Research Lines (1- Behavioural genetics and environment, 2- Environment and genetics of cardiovascular disorders and cancer, 3- Environment and genetics of Endocrine and metabolic diseases, 4- Iron metabolism in human diseases and 5 – Metabolic syndrome: Obesity and environment: in the beginning of the year, to define the scientific program to that year, and in the final, to elaborate a report to be present to the coordinator of the Scientific Council of ISAMB.

Regularly (as defined in the ISAMB’s Regulation), the group leader will meet the other group leaders of ISAMB, to establish cooperation in transversal areas of knowledge and to ensure knowledge transfer.

 

Productivity
[Under construction]
RG5: Ecogenetics and Human Health
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