Overview of Diet-Gene Interactions and the Example of Xanthophylls

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Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of diet-gene interaction and the role of dietary factors in human health and disease. Human master control genes that regulate processes of fundamental importance, such as cell proliferation and the immune response, are introduced and their modulation by nutraceuticals, produced by plants and photosynthetic microbes, is reviewed. Emphasis is placed on antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids as regulators of master control genes. Furthermore, a case study is presented on xanthophylls, a group of carotenoids with multiple health benefits in the protection against eye disease and other chronic diseases, as well as the synergism between xanthophylls and other dietary factors. Lastly, dietary sources of the xanthophylls zeaxanthin and lutein are reviewed and their enhancement via genetic engineering is discussed.