One-year Mediterranean diet promotes epigenetic rejuvenation with country- and sex-specific effects: a pilot study from the NU-AGE project

N. Gensous, P. Garagnani, A. Santoro, C. Giuliani, R. Ostan, C. Fabbri, M. Milazzo, D. Gentilini, A.M. di Blasio, B. Pietruszka, D. Madej, A. Bialecka-Debek, A. Brzozowska, C. Franceschi, M.G. Bacalini

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Mediterranean diet has been proposed to promote healthy aging, but its effects on aging biomarkers have been poorly investigated. We evaluated the impact of a 1-year Mediterranean-like diet in a pilot study including 120 elderly healthy subjects from the NU-AGE study (60 Italians, 60 Poles) by measuring the changes in their epigenetic age, assessed by Horvath’s clock. We observed a trend towards epigenetic rejuvenation of participants after nutritional intervention. The effect was statistically significant in the group of Polish females and in subjects who were epigenetically older at baseline. A genome-wide association study of epigenetic age changes after the intervention did not return significant (adjusted p value < 0.05) loci. However, we identified small-effect alleles (nominal p value < 10–4), mapping in genes enriched in pathways related to energy metabolism, regulation of cell cycle, and of immune functions. Together, these findings suggest that Mediterranean diet can promote epigenetic rejuvenation but with country-, sex-, and individual-specific effects, thus highlighting the need for a personalized approach to nutritional interventions.

Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)687-701
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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