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Gene in Focus: Part 27: CAT & GPX1

Posted 533 Days Ago in: Genetics, Nutrition

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This week we look at two genes that form part of our antioxidant needs section of the DNAFit Diet report, called CAT and GPX1. The gene that carries the most weight in this section is SOD2, which we have looked at previously in this series. If you can’t remember that far back, SOD2 is an antioxidant enzyme, and small changes in the SOD2 gene can lead to that enzyme working better or worse, which can increase how much of the antioxidant nutrients you require. CAT and GPX1 play a supportive role here.

The CAT gene produces an enzyme called catalase, which helps break down hydrogen peroxide, a substance that is very toxic to our cells, into water and oxygen. If we have a build up of hydrogen peroxide within our cells, this can cause a lot of damage, which could theoretically increase our risks of various diseases and illness. Catalase is a very strong enzyme, with one molecule of catalase able to breakdown millions of hydrogen peroxide molecules every second. GPX1 creates glutathione peroxidase 1, an enzyme that also helps to breakdown hydrogen peroxide, and therefore protect our cells from damage.

 

Given the important functions of these enzymes, it should be obvious that keeping them working well and at adequate levels in the body is important. However, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes can lead to the enzymes working less well in some people compared to others. A study published in 2006 looked at this in some detail. 231 young men and women had blood samples taken and analysed for how active both the CAT and GPX1 enzymes were, and then compared against their genotypes for these genes. In both the male and female subjects, GPX1 activity was lowest in the TT genotypes, and highest in the C allele carriers. The same was true for catalase; TT genotype had the lowest activity of this enzyme, then CT genotypes, and then finally CC genotypes. Other studies have reported similar results for both catalase and GPX1.

 

So, if we know that a person has a version of a gene that predisposes them to have lower levels of enzyme activity, what can we do about it? Firstly, it would be a good idea to consume higher than normal amounts of antioxidant nutrients, such as the vitamins A, C, and E. Whilst the recommended daily allowances might be sufficient for certain people, those with the lower activity genotypes of these genes might be well suited to having more of those nutrients. This can be as simple as focusing on brightly coloured vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and peppers, and almonds and seeds for vitamin E. When it comes to GPX1, this enzyme has been found to respond well to higher levels of selenium, and so in those with the CT or TT genotypes, a selenium intake of just above the RDA (we recommend 90mcg for CT and 105mcg for TT genotypes; the RDA is 75mcg per day). Seafood and Brazil nuts are the foods highest in selenium; roughly 2-3 Brazil nuts per day would give you all the selenium you need.

 

To summarise, different versions of two genes, CAT and GPX1 can predispose an individual to require higher than normal amounts of antioxidants and selenium. The below table summarises the main aspects of each genotype:

 

 

CAT

GPX1

CC

Good enzyme activity – standard antioxidant intake required.

Good enzyme activity – standard antioxidant intake required.

CT

Moderately reduced levels of enzyme activity – ensure slightly higher intake of antioxidants.

Moderately reduced levels of enzyme activity – ensure slightly higher intake of antioxidants and selenium.

TT

Lowest level of enzyme activity – should increase intake of antioxidants.

Lowest level of enzyme activity – should increase intake of antioxidants, especially selenium.

Tags:

Antioxidants Gene in Focus Vitamins Nutrition Healthy eating

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