“It’s in your DNA,” is what people often say when they describe a seemingly immutable inherited characteristic of someone’s personality or biological performance. DNA is thought of as the cells’ miraculous little entity that controls health and disease. Some think of DNA as “all” there is of us and to us. Charles Darwin proposed that DNA can change or mutate in the quest for survival and help successive generations overcome challenges so that the fittest DNA will win. After all, “it’s in your DNA”!
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Genetically speaking, this is only half the story. In fact, it may be less than half the story. The ways your DNA expresses itself is controlled by a mysterious and ephemeral “Fairy.” Her name is ‘Epigenetica’, and she determines which strands or sections of your DNA will and which ones won’t be allowed to express themselves to influence, steer, excite or inhibit the innumerable biochemical processes that take place in our body. Epigenetica does this by attaching to or detaching from your DNA a very simple molecule. It’s code-name is ‘CH3’, which stands for a molecule that is a composition of 1 carbon and 3 hydrogen atoms. Groups of CH3 are also called methyl-groups. When they’re being used by Epigenetica to define DNA’s activities, that activity is called ‘methylation’.
Conducting your DNA
Think of this as a conductor conducting a symphony orchestra. If all musicians would play at the same time or whenever they feel like it, you’d get an erratic and horrible cacophony. However, when the conductor gives his cues as to precisely when and how loud each musician will have to play his instrument, such according to the score written by the composer of the piece, we’ll get MUSIC. Epigenetica is your DNA’s conductor, yet, no one has ever met, seen or described her. Still, skilled scientists are quite capable of visualizing and assessing the methylation-patterns she spreads all over your DNA to make it “sing.” This is how we know that each one of us has his or her very individual Epigenetica.
De Novo DNA methylation
You see, when you were still in your mother’s womb in your pre-embryonic state, when one of your father’s sperm-cells had just met your mother’s egg, there was a brief moment when your own Epigenetica completely stripped your father’s and your mother’s DNAs from all their methylation patterns, to then give your own DNA (half-father-half-mother, but definitely you!) a brandnew methylation clothing. That new methylation pattern is what determines how your DNA will behave during the rest of your life. Yes, you’ve most certainly inherited your DNA from your parents, but your methylation pattern is all yours. The event is called ‘De Novo DNA Methylation’.
Epigenetica, nutrients and botanicals
Your private Epigenetica helps your DNA to express itself by responding to the various and many challenges that your organism has to cope with, every second of the day, every day of the year and every year of your lifetime. Epigenetica never rests. She’s a busy Fairy. If she would fall asleep, you’d be dead. So, she’s your best friend, but her success depends on the presence or absence of essential nutrients, botanical substances and whatever else you ingest or inhale and is produced by your metabolism. Like your DNA, Epigenetica doesn’t live in a vacuum. She’s surrounded by all the substances that you ingest and inhale and that your organism changes, glues together, breaks down, uses up, excretes or stores. Epigenetica has to keep many balls in the air and she can’t do that without help.
Epigenetica and Masquelier’s OPCs
A group of scientists highly specialized in researching methylation patterns looked at DNA’s methylation response as a result of 8 weeks of dietary intervention with Masquelier’s OPCs. [I] This was a sequel to the clinical study that had “revealed that the daily consumption of monomeric and oligomeric ﬂavanols [Masquelier’s OPCs] derived from grape seeds for 8 weeks accomplishes a vascular health beneﬁt in male smokers.” [ii] Looking at the methylation patterns, the researchers found that this response targets genes involved in vascular health and inflammatory processes. For instance, when compared with the DNA methylation signature in atherosclerotic patients, it was established that Masquelier’s OPCs push the methylation patterns in a direction opposite that of atherosclerotic patterns. In the researchers’ words:
“Interestingly, …, a negative correlation … was found …, suggesting that the [Masquelier’s OPCs] diet elicits opposite DNA methylation changes in comparison to atherosclerosis progression. […] Furthermore, …, we found more individuals with negative correlation (i.e. cardioprotection) than with positive correlations (i.e. proatherogenic).”
Oxidative stress defense and hypertension
The group of epigenetic specialists also checked to what extent Epigenetica’s response to the diet with Masquelier’s OPCs could be correlated with additional cardiovascular health criteria. The most signiﬁcant positive correlations were found for the antioxidant called glutathion peroxidase. Glutathion peroxidase (GPX) is directly involved in oxidative stress defense mechanisms and deﬁciencies in GPX play a critical role in cardiac dysfunctions and a certain form of hypertension. Besides, GPX also regulates epigenetic DNA methylation following oxidative stress. The most negative correlations were found for a substance called endothelin-1 (ET1). ET1’s levels decreased with the response enhanced by the OPCs diet, which is a beneficial effect since ET1 is playing a critical role in cardiovascular hypertension. So, by decreasing ET1 levels, one decreases the risk of cardiovascular hypertension. It is a well known fact that especially the single units that accompany OPCs in Masquelier’s OPCs, are known to lower ET1 release.
More Cardiovascular health criteria
All in all, the effects of Masquelier’s OPCs on DNA methylation strongly hint at an improvement of overall health in terms of a reduced risk of systemic inﬂammation, cardiovascular incidents and hypertension. From a cardioprotective perspective, the authors place the OPCs-study in the context of the fact that a Mediterranean diet rich in polyphenols will lower the levels of chronic inﬂammatory agents. Similarly, their study’s DNA methylation results indicate that an OPCs diet intervention works in favour of cardioprotection. Epigenetica couldn’t have been happier with the outcome of this study, which confirms how Masquelier’s OPCs help in managing your DNA’s activities that support cardiovascular health.