Nutrients. 2017 Jul 14;9(7). pii: E752. Full text

Fruit and Juice Epigenetic Signatures Are Associated with Independent Immunoregulatory Pathways.

Nicodemus-Johnson J1, Sinnott RA2.

1 USANA Health Sciences, 3838 W Parkway Boulevard, West Valley City, UT 84120, USA.
2 USANA Health Sciences, 3838 W Parkway Boulevard, West Valley City, UT 84120, USA.


Epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that fruit consumption promotes many health benefits. Despite the general consensus that fruit and juice are nutritionally similar, epidemiological results for juice consumption are conflicting. Our objective was to use DNA methylation marks to characterize fruit and juice epigenetic signatures within PBMCs and identify shared and independent signatures associated with these groups. Genome-wide DNA methylation marks (Illumina Human Methylation 450k chip) for 2,148 individuals that participated in the Framingham Offspring exam 8 were analyzed for correlations between fruit or juice consumption using standard linear regression. CpG sites with low P-values (P < 0.01) were characterized using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA), Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), and epigenetic Functional element Overlap analysis of the Results of Genome Wide Association Study Experiments (eFORGE). Fruit and juice-specific low P-value epigenetic signatures were largely independent. Genes near the fruit-specific epigenetic signature were enriched among pathways associated with antigen presentation and chromosome or telomere maintenance, while the juice-specific epigenetic signature was enriched for proinflammatory pathways. IPA and eFORGE analyses implicate fruit and juice-specific epigenetic signatures in the modulation of macrophage (fruit) and B or T cell (juice) activities. These data suggest a role for epigenetic regulation in fruit and juice-specific health benefits and demonstrate independent associations with distinct immune functions and cell types, suggesting that these groups may not confer the same health benefits. Identification of such differences between foods is the first step toward personalized nutrition and ultimately the improvement of human health and longevity.


DNA methylation; epigenetics; fruit consumption; juice consumption; personalized nutrition

PMID: 28708104



Fruit and vegetable consumption is a common dietary recommendation to promote and support health. Although, juice is thought to be nutritionally similar to fruit, it is lacking the fiber component, which promotes satiety, absorption, processing in the gut, and ultimately the health benefits of fruit or juice consumption. The USDA currently recommends 1.5-2 cups of fruit or juice per healthy adult per day and the US population consumes 1/3 of their daily fruit content as juice. Given the nutritional differences between fruit and juice we hypothesized that juice consumption would not be associated with the same cellular processes as fruit. The goal of our study was to understand how fruit and juice consumption may affect the body at the cellular level.

Epigenetics is the study of how the environment influences the cellular processes that occur in your body. DNA methylation is a commonly used epigenetic mechanism, which allows one to characterize cellular process that are influenced by changes in the environment, such as intake of fruit or juice into your body. Because fruit and juice consumption have been shown to alter many aspects of how the immune system functions, we chose to analyze DNA methylation in immune cells.

Recently, we presented analysis of DNA methylation patterns from 2,148 individuals belonging to the Framingham Heart Study. We show that DNA methylation patterns can be used to assess fruit or juice, as these patterns are different between the two groups. Importantly, these DNA methylation patterns are associated with very different immune system functions; this contrasts the common conception that fruit and juice are nutritionally similar and confers similar health benefits. Specifically, fruit consumption appears to be associated with cellular maintenance pathways, while juice consumption is associated with pathways that activate the immune system. We note that chronic immune system activation has been associated with a myriad of negative health benefits; this is consistent with an increasing number of studies in the literature demonstrating a negative impact of juice consumption on human health. Overall, our data is consistent with the fact that fruit and juice are not nutritionally identical and thus should not be thought of as interchangeable. A better understanding of how nutritional intake is associated with cellular processes in the human body will allow individuals to make more informed decisions about the food they put into their body and ultimately their health.