Background (completed research project​)

It is generally accepted that dietary intake has an influence on health, but exactly how this happens differs from person to person: genetic predisposition, personal metabolism and environmental factors all play a role. There are still no precise methods available for measuring the impact of dietary intake. New biomarkers can be used to observe the relationship between dietary intake and health more effectively and predict it more reliably for specific population groups.


The aim of the research project is to find new genetic biomarkers in the human body that provide indicators of the impact of dietary intake on health. The focus is on specific RNA molecules, or microRNAs. These non-coding ribonucleic acids circulate in the blood and play a role in the regulation of gene expression. Using volunteer test subjects, the study analyses the effects of changes in diet on various microRNAs. One area under investigation is the way these components react to very high-energy food and very low-calorie food. Further tests are aimed at identifying gene biomarkers that are sensitive to the intake of polyphenols or proteins and to changes in the blood sugar level. The project is part of the European Joint Programming Initiative "A healthy diet for a healthy life". The consortium consists of several research groups from Switzerland, France and the Netherlands.


Genetic biomarkers can be used to observe more closely the health impact of dietary intake for the human body. Under the research project, various microRNAs are being tested for their biomarker potential. The study will provide new templates for tailoring recommendations for a healthy diet more effectively to the needs of individual population groups.

Original title

Circulating microRNAs as markers of dietary intake

Project leaders

  • Prof. Dr. François Pralong, Universität Lausanne
  • Prof. Dr. Luc Tappy, Universität Lausanne
  • Dr. Jörg Hager, Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences



Further information on this content


Prof. Dr. François Pralong Universität Lausanne Faculté de biologie et médecine Quartier UNIL-CHUV Rue du Bugnon 46 1011 Lausanne +41 21 314 06 19