Nutrigenomics in Cardiovascular Disease: Implications for the Future


  • Mary B. Engler PhD, RN, MS

    1. Department of Physiological Nursing, Laboratory of Cardiovascular Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, CA
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Address for correspondence: Dr. Mary B. Engler, PhD, RN, MS, Professor and Director of the Cardiovascular and Genomics Graduate Programs, Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California, School of Nursing, 2 Koret Way, Suite N631, San Francisco, CA 94143-0610


Cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, is a complex multifactorial disease which is influenced by environmental and genetic factors. There is substantial evidence on the relationship between diet and CVD risk. An understanding of how genetic variation interacts with the diet to influence CVD risk is a rapidly evolving area of research. Since diet is the mainstay of risk factor modification, it is important to consider potential genetic influences on CVD risk. Nutrigenomics is the study of the interaction between diet and an individual's genetic makeup. Single nucleotide polymorphisms are the key factors in human genetic variation and provide a molecular basis for phenotypic differences between individuals. Whole genome and candidate gene association studies are two main approaches used in cardiovascular genetics to identify disease-causing genes. Recent nutrigenomics studies show the influence of genotype on the responsiveness to dietary factors or nutrients that may reduce CVD risk. Nutrigenomics research is expected to provide the scientific evidence for genotype-based personalized nutrition to promote health and prevent chronic disease, including CVD. It is imperative that healthcare providers, including cardiovascular nurses, are trained in genetics to foster delivery of competent genetic- and genomic-focused care and to facilitate incorporation of this new knowledge into current clinical practice, education, and research.