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Associations between dietary patterns and gene expression profiles of healthy men and women: a cross-sectional study

Annie Bouchard-Mercier123, Ann-Marie Paradis1, Iwona Rudkowska123, Simone Lemieux12, Patrick Couture1 and Marie-Claude Vohl123*

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods (INAF), Laval University, 2440 Hochelaga Blvd, Quebec G1V 0A6, Canada

2 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Laval University, 2425 de l’Agriculture St, Quebec G1K 7P4, Canada

3 Laboratory of Endocrinology and Genomics, CHUQ, Laval University Hospital Research Center, 2705 Laurier Blvd, Québec, G1V 4G2, Canada

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:24  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-24

Published: 12 February 2013



Diet regulates gene expression profiles by several mechanisms. The objective of this study was to examine gene expression in relation with dietary patterns.


Two hundred and fifty four participants from the greater Quebec City metropolitan area were recruited. Two hundred and ten participants completed the study protocol. Dietary patterns were derived from a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) by factor analysis. For 30 participants (in fasting state), RNA was extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and expression levels of 47,231 mRNA transcripts were assessed using the Illumina Human-6 v3 Expression BeadChips®. Microarray data was pre-processed with Flexarray software and analysed with Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA).


Two dietary patterns were identified. The Prudent dietary pattern was characterised by high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grain products and low intakes of refined grain products and the Western dietary pattern, by high intakes of refined grain products, desserts, sweets and processed meats. When individuals with high scores for the Prudent dietary pattern where compared to individuals with low scores, 2,083 transcripts were differentially expressed in men, 1,136 transcripts in women and 59 transcripts were overlapping in men and women. For the Western dietary pattern, 1,021 transcripts were differentially expressed in men with high versus low scores, 1,163 transcripts in women and 23 transcripts were overlapping in men and women. IPA reveals that genes differentially expressed for both patterns were present in networks related to the immune and/or inflammatory response, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.


Gene expression profiles were different according to dietary patterns, which probably modulate the risk of chronic diseases.

Trial Registration

NCT: NCT01343342

Dietary patterns; Western dietary pattern; Prudent dietary pattern; Gene expression; Transcriptomics