Milk, methylation and the microbiome: Antioxidant and epigenetic regulation in early brain development

Changes in DNA methylation are a major driving force for development, providing epigenetic regulation of gene expression, which is particuarly important for brain development. Antioxidant status affects methylation capacity, and whey proteins in milk are a critical source of the amino acid cysteine, which is needed for production of the antioxidant glutathione. Composition of the intestinal microbiome can affect the efficiency of cysteine absorption, with epigenetic consequences. This presentation will review the metabolic pathways that support DNA methylation and brain development, including factors that can contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.   

Richard Deth, PhD

Dr. Richard Deth is Professor of Pharmacology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has extensively investigated the metabolic relationship between methylation status and antioxidant status, particularly as it applies to autism, including postmortem brain studies. His laboratory discovered the ability of D4 dopamine receptors to carry out phospholipid methylation and its role in neuronal synchronization and attention. More recently he and co-workers were first to describe the ability of milk and gluten-derived opioid peptides to inhibit cysteine transport with DNA methylation and epigenetic consequences.