Many environmental factors including diet can influence the pattern of chemical modifications on our DNA (epigenetic marks). Dr Aaron Stevens is investigating whether nutritional supplementation with micronutrients can influence patterns of DNA methylation in the human genome.
This work is in collaboration with Professor Julia Rucklidge (University of Canterbury), who has carried out a treatment trial of micronutrient supplements for childhood ADHD and collected blood samples before and after treatment.
Dr Stevens is currently examining genome-wide methylation impacts of micronutrient exposure in these samples. Nutrient formulations have proven successful in treating a range of neuropsychiatric or psychological conditions. The supplement includes important methyl donors and cofactors such as folates, vitamin B12, methionine, betaine and choline, which are required for mammalian one-carbon metabolism. These pathway precursors may augment cellular methylation pathways, and thus mediate epigenetic gene regulation, impacting on physiological and mental development