Genes and Nutrition

Each of us is metabolically unique. Gene variations known as SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) often are a factor in an individual’s ability to metabolize or use nutrients efficiently. Each of our specific nutrient needs is affected by which specific combination of SNPs we have, but with thousands known to impact nutrition metabolism, how do we know what those needs are?

NRI researchers are working to create a “catalog” of SNPs that alter our nutritional needs by understanding how genetic and other complex biological information can be used to better estimate individual nutrition requirements and intolerances. Our scientists use bioinformatics to extract such information from population and intervention studies, develop rules for predicting individual needs, and bring precision nutrition to health care providers and consumers with digital tools.



Genes and Nutrition Publications


Genetic variants affecting bone mineral density and bone mineral content at multiple skeletal sites in Hispanic children.  Voruganti VS

Precision (Personalized) Nutrition: Understanding Metabolic Heterogeneity.  Zeisel S


DNA methylation in mice is influenced by genetics as well as sex and life experience.  French J

Cytosolic 10-formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase regulates glycine metabolism in mouse liver.  Krupenko S

Deleterious mutations in ALDH1L2 suggest a novel cause for neuro-ichthyotic syndrome.  Krupenko S

Fine mapping and identification of serum urate loci in American Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study.  Voruganti VS

Heterogeneity in Metabolic Responses to Dietary Fructose.  Voruganti VS

Genetic analysis of hsCRP in American Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study.  Voruganti VS

A trans-ancestral meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies reveals loci associated with childhood obesity.  Voruganti VS

Healthy dietary patterns and risk and survival of breast cancer: a meta-analysis of cohort studies.  Voruganti VS

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Genome-Wide Interaction Analyses Reveal DPP10-Pulmonary Function Association.  Voruganti VS

Betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase deficiency causes increased susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss associated with plasma hyperhomocysteinemia.  Zeisel S

MicroRNA-129-5p is regulated by choline availability and controls EGF receptor synthesis and neurogenesis in the cerebral cortex.  Zeisel S


Introduction to mammalian genome special issue: the combined role of genetics and environment relevant to human disease outcomes.  French J

C16-ceramide is a natural regulatory ligand of p53 in cellular stress response.  Krupenko N

Metabolic Phenotype of Wild-Type and As3mt-Knockout C57BL/6J Mice Exposed to Inorganic Arsenic: The Role of Dietary Fat and Folate Intake.  Krupenko S

Nutritional Genomics of Cardiovascular Disease.  Voruganti VS

Genetic determinants of BMI from early childhood to adolescence: the Santiago Longitudinal Study.  Voruganti VS

Genetic Variants Related to Cardiometabolic Traits Are Associated to B Cell Function, Insulin Resistance, and Diabetes Among AmeriCan Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study.  Voruganti VS

Meta-analysis across Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium provides evidence for an association of serum vitamin D with pulmonary function.  Voruganti VS

Serum Lipid Concentrations and FADS Genetic Variants in Young Mexican College Students: The UP-AMIGOS Cohort Study.  Voruganti VS

Arsenic-gene interactions and beta-cell function in the Strong Heart Family Study.  Voruganti VS

Dietary Modulation of the Epigenome.  Zeisel S


NTP Research Report on Absence of Formaldehyde-Induced Neoplasia in Trp53 Haploinsufficient Mice Exposed by Inhalation: Research Report 3 [Internet].  French J

QTL Mapping and Identification of Candidate Genes in DO Mice: A Use Case Model Derived from a Benzene Toxicity Experiment.  French J

Heterogeneity of p53 dependent genomic responses following ethanol exposure in a developmental mouse model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  Mooney S

Exome sequencing reveals novel genetic loci influencing obesity-related traits in Hispanic children.  Voruganti VS

Genetic variation underlying renal uric acid excretion in Hispanic children: the Viva La Familia Study.  Voruganti VS

Reduced brain volume and impaired memory in betaine homocysteine S-methyltransferase knockout mice.  Zeisel S

Betaine is accumulated via transient choline dehydrogenase activation during mouse oocyte meiotic maturation.  Zeisel S

Deletion of one allele of Mthfd1 (methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 1) impairs learning in mice.  Zeisel S

Choline, Other Methyl-Donors and Epigenetics.  Zeisel S

Choline and its metabolites are differently associated with cardiometabolic risk factors, history of cardiovascular disease, and MRI-documented cerebrovascular disease in older adults.  Zeisel S

Altered methylation of specific DNA loci in the liver of Bhmt-null mice results in repression of Iqgap2 and F2rl2 and is associated with development of preneoplastic foci.  Zeisel S


CerS6 Is a Novel Transcriptional Target of p53 Protein Activated by Non-genotoxic Stress.  Krupenko N

Genotype, B-vitamin status, and androgens affect spaceflight-induced ophthalmic changes.  Zeisel S

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Recognition of the importance of Precision Nutrition can be seen in several recent funding initiatives announced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH is the major funding source for biomedical research in the US, and its funding priorities reflect what it...

Important NIH Award for NRI and Partners

December 12, 2019 – Agatha Christie once said, “the first time you do a thing is always exciting.” Well, we’ve had a lot of excitement at the Nutrition Research Institute recently! Two members of the Smith Lab are celebrating becoming first-time first-authors of scientific journal publications.

NRI Congratulates First-time First-Authors

December 12, 2019 – Agatha Christie once said, “the first time you do a thing is always exciting.” Well, we’ve had a lot of excitement at the Nutrition Research Institute recently! Two members of the Smith Lab are celebrating becoming first-time first-authors of scientific journal publications.

One Size Won’t Fit All

August 20, 2019 – Nearly 35 percent of Americans are considered obese — a diagnosis that has become so common the American Medical Association recognizes it as a chronic disease. While the diagnosis is the same for all, the treatments vary; what works for one person typically doesn’t work for another. In response, researchers from across UNC have joined forces to tackle this ever-growing problem.

What should I eat on my night shift?

June 11, 2019 -Martin Kohlmeier, MD, PhD, director of the Human Research Core at the University of North Carolina’s Nutrition Research Institute, says, “The effect of a disrupted sleep cycle on energy metabolism is real but of modest size. In the end, it’s about the practicalities of food access, convenience, and the time demands of the shift. Planning ahead is your friend.