B vitamins protect epigenome from pollution effects

Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

March 13 2017. A trial reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals a protective effect for supplementation with B vitamins on the human epigenome:  the chemicals surrounding DNA that modify the genome and help determine the genes that are active in a cell. The trial’s results suggest that B vitamins could help protect the epigenome from the detrimental effects of air pollution.

"The molecular foundations of air pollution's health effects are not fully understood, and the lack of individual-level preventative options represented a critical knowledge gap," noted coauthor Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, who is a professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. "Our study launches a line of research for developing preventive interventions to minimize the adverse effects of air pollution on potential mechanistic markers. Because of the central role of epigenetic modifications in mediating environmental effects, our findings could very possibly be extended to other toxicants and environmental diseases."

In a crossover trial, 10 adults were given a placebo for 2 weeks, followed by exposure to particle-free air; a placebo for 4 weeks, followed by exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5); and 2.5 milligrams (mg) folic acid, 50 mg vitamin B6 and 1 mg vitamin B12 daily for 4 weeks, followed by exposure to fine particulate matter. Epigenome changes in peripheral CD4+ T-helper cells were assessed at the end of each of the three experiments.

“This crossover intervention trial with controlled exposure experiments demonstrated that 2 hour exposure to concentrated ambient PM2.5 affects the dynamic epigenetic landscape in circulating CD4+ T helper cells among healthy adults,” the authors report. “We showed that these effects can be prevented with B-vitamin supplementation (i.e., folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12).”

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