Various Definition of Epigenetic
When I started research on the word “Epigenetic”, there were dozens of definitions I read. When I observed them from a common layman’s mind view, all go over from my head (complex words used). Here I mention some of the Epigenetic definitions with their references.
Epigenetic from Whatisepigenetics.com
“Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence — a change in phenotype without a change in genotype — which in turn affects how cells read the genes.”
Epigenetic from Livescience.com
“Epigenetics means “above” or “on top of” genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells “read” genes.”
Epigenetic from U.S National Library of Medicine
“DNA modifications that do not change the DNA sequence can affect gene activity. Chemical compounds that are added to single genes can regulate their activity; these modifications are known as epigenetic changes.”
Epigenetic from Ketonutrition.org
“Epigenetics refers to DNA modifications that can change gene expression without altering the DNA sequence itself”.
After a thorough reading of the above-mentioned definitions, I feel that a doctor, expert in this field, student of medicine and genetic science can easily understand these terms. But all these terms go over the head of a layman.
What Epigenetic exactly is? OR Epigenetic For a Layman
It would be very difficult for a layman to understand the concept of Epigenetic unless aware of some basic terms. Therefore, let comprehend some basic terms that later on would be used in the definition of Epigenetic.
Gene is the information of different qualities that transferred from parents to children.
Genetic is the study that how different qualities transferred from parents to children.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)
DNA stands for “Deoxyribonucleic Acid”. If we define it in very simple words then it would be “DNA is a molecule that contains genetic information (information about all the qualities transferred from parents to child) in all living system”. It means that genetic information of a person is wrapped in the DNA of that human being.
DNA is composed of 4 bases i.e. Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine. However, these are used in abbreviations i.e. A, C, G, and T respectively. This is called DNA sequencing. The genetic information (qualities passed from parents to child) in all human beings is available on these 4 bases.
A process, by which genetic information available in a gene is made into functional gene products like Protein, is called gene expression.
Now we define the term “Epigenetic”.
A Layman Definition of Epigenetics
Epigenetics is the study of gene expression. DNA is composed of four bases (Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine, we called them “DNA sequencing). The genetic information in any human being exists in DNA sequencing. Epigenetics is not the study of changes that happened in DNA sequencing, but it is the study of changes in gene expression (a process, by which genetic information available in a gene is made into functional gene product like Protein).
How Ketogenic Diet Alters Epigenetic
The first question that creates is “does Ketogenic diet alters epigenetic? The answer is a big “Yes”. Now we come to that how Ketogenic diet alters epigenetic?
A ketogenic diet means a diet of low-carbohydrate, moderate-in-protein and high-fats. I am not going into depth of basic of Ketogenic diet. We already published a scholarly article on the Ketogenic diet and its impacts on the human body.
We know that the body uses glucose as a fuel. The intake of glucose in our body is via different foods and fruits that we eat.
But having on the Ketogenic diet, the glucose runs out from the body. The body looks for an alternative source to use as a fuel. At this stage, fat available in the liver starts burning into smaller molecules called fatty acids and these fatty acids. The fatty acids are further broken down into chemicals called “Ketones”. These ketones are used by the body as an energy source. This process in which the formation of Ketones in our body happened called Ketogenesis.
The body produces three types of Ketones bodies in the result of Ketogenesis i.e. Acetoacetate, Beta-Hydroxybutyrate, and Acetone. All these three types of ketones have their molecular formula and chemical structure.
The most important Ketone body is beta-Hydroxybutyrate which is the most effective energy source of the body. The molecular formula of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is C4H8O3. This Ketone body is a powerful modulator of gene expression.
Beta-Hydroxybutyrate not only alters the gene expression but also reduces the inflammation. Moreover, it removes dangerous radical chemicals from our body by enhancing our antioxidants production.
Experiment from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
How Ketogenic diet alters the Epigenetic, to determine this fact an experiment carried out in Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The experiment based on mice that had a genetic defect. This defect leads to a progressive decline in the functioning of the brain. The investigator/scientists injected Beta-Hydroxybutyrate in the body of mice. After a few days, the defect corrected. The study showed that a genetic defect in any living organism, either human or animal, can be corrected simply by putting them on a Ketogenic diet.
Examples of Ketogenic Diet and Epigenetic
From all the above discussion, it proved that the Ketogenic diet changes the physical structure of DNA. Let’s understand it with an example.
Histone is the basic and main protein wraps around DNA. If histones exit from our bodies, the DNA would be too long and not be possible to stay inside of the cell. When histones pinch the DNA, then DNA can’t in a position to read by the cell. The epigenetic relax the histones and make the DNA accessible to protein so that it should read out by cell.
Ketogenic Diet and Cancer
In cancer, the genes that prevent us from cancer become silent and inactive. When DNA is damaged, the cells make active the process to repair this damage. For example, p53 (tumor suppressor protein called “Guardian of the Genome) informs cells to stop the dividing who was dividing rapidly. In several cancer cases, p53 protein can’t be expressed. At this stage, the Ketogenic diet can be used as a potential anti-therapy cancer. It burns the fats and converts them into fatty acids. The body uses energy sources, that’s why fatty acids are further converted into Ketones. And one of the major Ketone “beta-Hydroxybutyrate” is used as a Ketogenic diet. It helps the body to grow healthy tissues and strengthen the immune system against cancer and genetic defects.
Ketogenic Diet and Kabuki Syndrome
Kabuki Syndrome is a congenital disease of genetic origin. The genes that regulate the balance of gene expression become defective in Kabuki syndrome. There is no proper treatment of this congenital disorder. However, research shown that using the Ketogenic diet may help to restore the defective genes in working condition. In this regard, an experiment was done wherein the Ketogenic diet was applied in the Kabuki mouse model. During this experiment, exogenous ketones produced hyper-acetylation which allowed genes of expression to become active that were inactive and silenced at the stage of the disorder. The protein stopped the further growth of disease and its effects and releases neurons in the hippocampus.