Asthma, allergy, and responses to methyl donor supplements and nutrients.
After a brief period of stabilization, recent data have shown that the prevalence of asthma and allergic diseases continues to increase. Atopic diseases are major public health problems resulting in significant disability and resource use globally. Although environmental factors influence the development of atopic disease, dietary changes might partially explain the high burden of atopic disease. Potential mechanisms through which diet is suspected to effect asthma and allergy susceptibility are through epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation. Dietary methyl donors are important in the one-carbon metabolic pathway that is essential for DNA methylation. Findings from both observational studies and interventional trials of dietary methyl donor supplementation on the development and treatment of asthma and allergy have produced mixed results. Although issues related to the differences in study design partially explain the heterogeneous results, 2 other issues have been largely overlooked in these studies. First, these nutrients affect one of many pathways and occur in many of the same foods. Second, it is now becoming clear that the human intestinal microbiome is involved in the metabolism and production of the B vitamins and other methyl donor nutrients. Future studies will need to account for both the interrelationships between these nutrients and the effects of the microbiome.