University of Oulu

Gjevestad, G.O., Holven, K.B., Rundblad, A. et al. Increased protein intake affects pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) processing, immune function and IGF signaling in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of home-dwelling old subjects using a genome-wide gene expression approach. Genes Nutr 14, 32 (2019).

Increased protein intake affects pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) processing, immune function and IGF signaling in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of home-dwelling old subjects using a genome-wide gene expression approach

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Author: Gjevestad, Gyrd O.1,2; Holven, Kirsten B.1,3; Rundblad, Amanda1;
Organizations: 1Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1046, Blindern, 0317, Oslo, Norway
2Innovation and marketing, TINE SA, Lakkegata 23, 0187, Oslo, Norway
3National Advisory Unit on Familial Hypercholesterolemia, Department of Endocrinology, Morbid Obesity and Preventive Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, P.O. Box 4950 Nydalen, 0424, Oslo, Norway
4Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Genomics Core Facility, Norwegian University of Sciences and Technology, Olav Kyrres gt. 9, 7489, Trondheim, Norway
5Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing and Health Promotion, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, P.O. Box 4 St. Olavs plass, 0130, Oslo, Norway
6Research Unit of Biomedicine, and Biocenter of Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University, P.O Box 5000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
7Department of Gastroenterology and Metabolism, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 60-572, Poznan, Poland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-03-25


Background: Adequate protein intake among older adults is associated with better health outcomes such as immune function and metabolic regulation of skeletal muscle, but conflicting results make it difficult to define the optimal intake. To further understand the impact of protein intake on metabolic processes, the aim of the study was to explore genome-wide gene expression changes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in home-dwelling old subjects after increased protein intake for 12 weeks.

Method: In a parallel double-blind randomized controlled intervention study, subjects (≥ 70 years) received a protein-enriched milk (2 × 20 g protein/day, n = 14, mean (±SD) age 76.9 ± 4.9 years) or an isocaloric carbohydrate drink (n = 17, mean (±SD) age 77.7 ± 4.8 years) for breakfast and evening meal for 12 weeks. PBMCs were isolated before and after the intervention. Microarray analysis was performed using Illumina technology. Serum levels of gut peptides and insulin growth factor (IGF)-1 were also measured.

Results: In total 758 gene transcripts were regulated after increased protein intake, and 649 gene transcripts were regulated after intake of carbohydrates (p < 0.05). Forty-two of these genes were overlapping. After adjusting for multiple testing, 27 of the 758 gene transcripts were regulated (FDR, q-value < 0.25) after protein intake. Of these 25 were upregulated and two downregulated. In particular, genes and signaling pathways involved in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) processing, immune function, and IGF signaling were significantly altered.

Conclusions: PBMCs can be used to study gene expression changes after long-term protein intake, as many signaling pathways were regulated after increased protein intake. The functional significance of these findings needs to be further investigated.

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Series: Genes & nutrition
ISSN: 1555-8932
ISSN-E: 1865-3499
ISSN-L: 1555-8932
Volume: 14
Issue: 1
Article number: 32
DOI: 10.1186/s12263-019-0654-6
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: The Research Council of Norway (225258/E.40), Throne Holst Foundation for Nutrition Research, University of Oslo, and TINE SA supported this work.
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.