Individuals with multiple symptoms in multiple body systems over months and years without beneficial answers from conventional medicine need something more. Functional MD’s like myself strive to provide such patients with paths to restoration, not by abandoning conventional medicine, but by applying the best of medical research to our patients. We are often accused of ordering too many tests, yet this recent study from Clemson University supports our approach to looking at a patient’s metabolism to diagnose or predict disease.
As medical science has sought to establish links between genetic variations and disease, they have found that most links act more as dimmer switches and less as on-off switches. They have also found that diseases or symptoms arise out of the interplay of these dimmer switches not only between each other but with the environment of the organism. Measuring single genetic variations or even groups do not offer accurate pictures of disease occurrence.
In this study, researchers at Clemson examined the metabolic profiles of fruit flies in order to find connections between genetic variations and their phenotypes, their individual expression of observable traits or behaviors. The metabolome is simply the chemical products of an organism’s cellular machinery. This machinery results from the organism’s genetics interacting with their environment. They hypothesized that certain metabolic patterns and phenotypes would link to specific genetic variations. Basically, they wanted to trace a line from genetics to metabolic markers to observable traits in the organism.
Their findings revealed that by simultaneously measuring hundreds of metabolic markers and analyzing them according to their common pathways, various genetic variants could be linked to traits like “inter-male aggression” and “stress resistance”. The expressed traits however linked much more closely with the metabolic profile than the genetic pattern. The nature versus nurture debate once again indicates that it is a combination of the two, not an either-or situation. Both genetics and environment influence an organism’s resulting phenotype.
What difference does that make for my next patient in the clinic? In order to discern what each suffering patient needs, we already used a panel of metabolic markers to predict missing nutrients, identify metabolic obstacles like toxins or infections, and overcome genetic weaknesses. Looking at fatty acid metabolism, energy cycle markers, neurotransmitter markers, microbial waste products, and organic acids provides a window into your body’s dysfunctions. With the wisdom gained from study and experience, we discern what stands in the way of restoring a healthier more abundant life. In sharing that knowledge with you, we empower you to restore health rather than having to accept life as less than you desire.
Shanshan Zhou, Fabio Morgante, Matthew Geisz, Junwu Ma, Robert Anholt, Trudy Mackay. Systems Genetics of the Drosophila Metabolome. Genome Research, 2019; gr.243030.118 DOI: 10.1101/gr.243030.118
Thanks to Science Daily:
Clemson University. “Geneticists identify small molecules that are potential indicators for disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191211115521.htm>.
Metabolome and genetics:
Breunig JS, Hackett SR, Rabinowitz JD, Kruglyak L. 2014. Genetic basis of metabolome variation in yeast. PLoS Genet 10: e1004142.
Chan EK, Rowe HC, Hansen BG, Kliebenstein DJ. 2010. The complex genetic architecture of the metabolome. PLoS Genet 6: e1001198.
Connections between metabolomes and traits:
Chorna NE, Santos-Soto IJ, Carballeira NM, Morales JL, de la Nuez J, Catala-Valentin A, Chornyy AP, Vázquez-Montes A, De Ortiz SP. 2013. Fatty acid synthase as a factor required for exercise-induced cognitive enhancement and dentate gyrus cellular proliferation. PLoS One 8: e77845.
Fernie AR, Tohge T. 2017. The genetics of plant metabolism. Annu Rev Genet 51: 287-310.
Gieger C, Geistlinger L, Altmaier E, Hrabe de Angelis M, Kronenberg F, Meitinger T, Mewes HW, Wichmann HE, Weinberger KM, Adamski J, et al. 2008. Genetics meets metabolomics: A genome-wide association study of metabolite profiles in human serum. PLoS Genet 4: e1000282.
Guo Z, Magwire MM, Basten CJ, Xu Z, Wang D. 2016. Evaluation of 569 the utility of gene expression and metabolic information for genomic prediction in maize. Theor Appl Genet 129:2413-2427.
Harbison ST, McCoy LJ, Mackay TFC. 2013. Genome-wide association study of sleep in Drosophila melanogaster. BMC Genomics 14: 281.
Hood L, Heath JR, Phelps ME, Lin B. 2004. Systems biology and new technologies enable predictive and preventative medicine. Science 306: 640-643.
Ibrahim SM, Gold R. 2005. Genomics, proteomics, metabolomics: What is in a 594 word for multiple sclerosis? Curr Opin Neurol 18: 231-235.
Illig T, Gieger C, Zhai G, Römisch-Margl W, Wang-Sattler R, Prehn C, Altmaier E, Kastenmüller G, Kato BS, Mewes HW, et al. 2010. A genome-wide perspective of genetic variation in human metabolism. Nat Genet 42: 137-141.
Lehner B. 2013. Genotype to phenotype: Lessons from model organisms for human genetics. Nat Rev Genet 14: 168-178.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.