High intake of dietary phytochemicals, non-nutritive compounds found in vegetables and fruits, has been associated with a decreased risk of various types of cancer. With the introduction of new “omics” research approaches, technologies providing large scale and holistic data on biological responses to dietary or environmental factors, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the preventive action of individual phytochemicals has started to increase rapidly. This understanding contributes to the biological plausibility of the observed link between fruit and vegetable consumption and decreased cancer risk in epidemiological studies. In this mini-review, we present an overview of the characteristics of the different “omics” techniques, with emphasis on transcriptomics, epigenetics, and the analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms, and evaluate their implications in studies on dietary phytochemicals. We focus particularly on studies in human cell cultures in vitro and in human population studies and discuss the potential and different challenges offered by each technique, as well as future perspectives on applications of these new tools in nutritional genomics research.
Keywords: Antioxidants, dietary intervention, genomics, human cancer prevention, multiomics phytochemicals, synergy, transcriptomics, non-nutritive compounds, biological plausibility, analysis of single nucleotide, nutritional genomics research
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