Díaz-Rúa, Rubén; Keijer, Jaap; Caimari, Antoni; van Schothorst, Evert M.; Palou, Andreu; Oliver, Paula
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are accessible in humans, and their gene expression pattern was shown to reflect overall physiological response of the body to a specific stimulus, such as diet. We aimed to study the impact of sustained intake (4months) of diets with an unbalanced macronutrient proportion (rich in fat or protein) administered isocalorically to a balanced control diet, as physiological stressors on PBMC whole-genome gene expression in rats, to better understand the effects of these diets on metabolism and health and to identify biomarkers of nutritional imbalance. Dietary macronutrient composition (mainly increased protein content) altered PBMC gene expression, with genes involved in immune response being the most affected. Intake of a high-fat (HF) diet decreased the expression of genes related to antigen recognition/presentation, whereas the high-protein (HP) diet increased the expression of these genes and of genes involved in cytokine signaling and immune system maturation/activation. Key energy homeostasis genes (mainly related to lipid metabolism) were also affected, reflecting an adaptive response to the diets. Moreover, HF diet feeding impaired expression of genes involved in redox balance regulation. Finally, we identified a common gene expression signature of 7 genes whose expression changed in the same direction in response to the intake of both diets. These genes, individually or together, constitute a potential risk marker of diet macronutrient imbalance. In conclusion, we newly show that gene expression analysis in PBMCs allows for detection of diet-induced physiological deviations that distinguish from a diet with a proper and equilibrated macronutrient composition.