'Omics' Data Reveals Impact of Olive Oil on Human Gene Expression

Olive oil exerts direct effects on molecules in the body that alter human gene expression and metabolic function.

Oct. 13, 2016
By Jedha Dening

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Olive oil a monoun­sat­u­rated fat, is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet), one of the world’s health­i­est dietary pat­terns. Consumption of olive oil and fol­low­ing a MedDiet have been stud­ied exten­sively in hun­dreds of stud­ies and shown to pro­vide ben­e­fits for many chronic health con­di­tions such as can­cer, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­ders and the meta­bolic syn­drome.
See Also:Olive Oil Health Benefits
While these health ben­e­fits are well estab­lished, sci­ence has not had the tools to iden­tify the mech­a­nisms behind such pos­i­tive responses. Now, a break­through in mod­ern med­i­cine and nutri­tion called omics tech­nolo­gies — tran­scrip­tomics, pro­teomics, metabolomics, inter­ac­tomics and flux­omics — pro­vides a way to char­ac­ter­ize the mol­e­c­u­lar mark­ers and mech­a­nisms behind the health ben­e­fits of nutraceu­ti­cals such as olive oil and the MedDiet pat­tern.

A recent review pub­lished in Biofactors, reveals that the early evi­dence com­ing out of omics tech­nolo­gies con­firms that olive oil and the MedDiet do in fact exert effects on mol­e­cules in the body that alter human gene expres­sion and meta­bolic func­tion.

Some of the spe­cific effects of olive oil bisphe­nols on dis­ease mech­a­nisms include: effects on recep­tors, sig­nal­ing kinases and tran­scrip­tion fac­tors asso­ci­ated with cel­lu­lar stress and inflam­ma­tion, lipopro­tein metab­o­lism and dam­age, and endothe­lial func­tion and more in gen­eral with path­ways respon­si­ble for cell cycle reg­u­la­tion and metab­o­lism that include mito­chon­dr­ial func­tion and sig­nal­ing, ER stress, DNA dam­age, and the response to growth fac­tors, cytokines and hor­mones.”

Omics data also show that olive oil phe­nols have a bal­anc­ing func­tion (home­o­sta­tic) on the gas­troin­testi­nal tract — stom­ach, liver, and pan­creas — as well as influ­enc­ing inflam­ma­tory and vas­cu­lar cells at the cel­lu­lar, sys­temic level of the body. The data con­firms the pow­er­ful role olive oil plays in human gene expres­sion, as anti-inflam­ma­tory and immune mod­u­lat­ing agent and in influ­enc­ing antiox­i­dant and detox­i­fi­ca­tion genes in the body.

This really is a break­through in nutri­tional sci­ence and med­i­cine, because now, what can be under­stood by these new omic tech­nolo­gies, is the bioac­tive tar­gets that spe­cific com­po­nents of olive oil have on the body.


For instance, before this new sci­ence, research has clearly shown olive oil has health ben­e­fits for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, but no known mech­a­nisms. With this new sci­ence, it can now be seen that olive oil influ­ences genes such as MCP, IL7R, IFNc, TNFa, and the b‑adrenergic recep­tor B2. MCP1, for exam­ple, is a cru­cial chemokine respon­si­ble for the recruit­ment of mono­cytes to inflam­ma­tory lesions in the vas­cu­la­ture.”

This pro­vides pow­er­ful infor­ma­tion to sci­en­tists about how foods influ­ence dis­eases, both in their devel­op­ment, pro­gres­sion and heal­ing. This new sci­ence also pro­vides another level of exper­i­men­tal val­i­da­tion and promise for reveal­ing ways cer­tain nutri­tional foods such as olive oil may be used in clin­i­cal appli­ca­tions for even greater ben­e­fits.

The world of omics tech­nolo­gies is still in its infancy, there­fore there is still much to be dis­cov­ered. However, the authors sug­gest that in the near future, omics tech­nol­ogy will make it pos­si­ble to pre­dict and assess gene response in rela­tion to nutraceu­ti­cals such as olive oil, which could lead the way to the pro­vi­sion of per­son­al­ized nutri­tion and med­i­cine that could reverse dis­ease.

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