Low or imbalanced dietary and biomarker status of folate and interrelated B-vitamins (methyl donor nutrients)
perturb 1-carbon metabolism, and adversely affect brain development in early life and brain function in later life.
Human studies show that improved maternal folate status during pregnancy is associated with improved cognition
in the offspring, whilst optimal folate and related B-vitamin status may prevent cognitive decline in later life. The
biological mechanisms explaining these relationships are not clear but may involve DNA methylation of
epigenetically-controlled genes related to brain development and function. A better understanding of the
mechanisms linking relevant B-vitamins and the epigenome with brain health at critical stages of the lifecycle is
necessary to support evidence-based health improvement strategies.
The EpiBrain project will lead to improved understanding of the role of B vitamins, their epigenetic
effects and brain function in childhood and older age, with expected results anticipated to provide scientific
substantiation to support nutritional strategies for sustaining better brain health through the lifespan. The
consortium has strong expertise in B vitamin nutrition and epigenetics and a track record of working together
across our institutions in Canada, UK and Spain.