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Head of Institute: Prof. Oren Froy

Administrative manager: Ms. Yael Fruchter

Office Address:
Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition,
Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 
P.O.Box 12, Rehovot 7610001, ISRAEL

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Email Address: yaelf@savion.huji.ac.il

Publications

2019
Demishtein, K. ; Reifen, R. ; Shemesh, M. Antimicrobial properties of magnesium open opportunities to develop healthier food. Nutrients 2019, 11. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Magnesium is a vital mineral that takes part in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the human body. In the past several years, new information emerged in regard to the antibacterial effect of magnesium. Here we elaborate on the recent knowledge of its antibacterial effect with emphasis on its ability to impair bacterial adherence and formation complex community of bacterial cells called biofilm. We further talk about its ability to impair biofilm formation in milk that provides opportunity for developing safer and qualitative dairy products. Finally, we describe the pronounced advantages of enrichment of food with magnesium ions, which result in healthier and more effcient food products. © 2019 by the authors.
Shiff, Y. E. ; Reif, S. ; Marom, R. ; Shiff, K. ; Reifen, R. ; Golan-Gerstl, R. MiRNA-320a is less expressed and miRNA-148a more expressed in preterm human milk compared to term human milk. Journal of Functional Foods 2019, 57, 68 - 74. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ObjectivesTo investigate whether there is a difference in the profile of miRNAs between human milk (HM) from mothers of preterm versus HM from mothers of full-term infants. Second goal is to assess biological functions or implication related to those differences in miRNAs expression. Methods Four of the highly expressed miRNAs in milk were detected by qRT-PCR. Milk derived exosomes were incubated with cells. The expression of miRNAs and target gene were detected by qRT-PCR. Results MiRNA-320 was more highly expressed in the colostrum of fullterm than in preterm HM. The expression of MiRNA-148 was higher in preterm mother's milk than of full-term colostrum. MiRNA-320 and MIRNA-148a expression were upregulated in cells incubated with milk exosomes, which lead to a decrease in their target genes FASN1 and DNMT1 respectivilly. Conclusions Alterations in miRNAs expression in HM can affect biologic function in infants and may serve as a nutritional therapeutic target.
Curzon, A. Y. ; Chandrasekhar, K. ; Nashef, Y. K. ; Abbo, S. ; Bonfil, D. J. ; Reifen, R. ; Bar-el, S. ; Avneri, A. ; Ben-David, R. Distinguishing between Bread Wheat and Spelt Grains Using Molecular Markers and Spectroscopy. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2019, 67, 3837 - 3841. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The increasing demand for spelt products requires the baking industry to develop accurate and efficient tools to differentiate between spelt and bread wheat grains. We subjected a 272-sample spelt-bread wheat set to several potential diagnostic methods. DNA markers for γ-gliadin-D (GAG56D), γ-gliadin-B (GAG56B), and the Q-gene were used, alongside phenotypic assessment of ease-of-threshing and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). The GAG56B and GAG56D markers demonstrated low diagnostic power in comparison to the Q-gene genotyping, which showed full accordance with the threshing phenotype, providing a highly accurate distinction between bread wheat and spelt kernels. A highly reliable Q classification was based on a three-waveband NIR model [Kappa (0.97), R-square (0.93)], which suggested that this gene influences grain characteristics. Our data ruled out a protein concentration bias of the NIRS-based diagnosis. These findings highlight the Q gene and NIRS as important, valuable, but simple tools for distinguishing between bread wheat and spelt.The increasing demand for spelt products requires the baking industry to develop accurate and efficient tools to differentiate between spelt and bread wheat grains. We subjected a 272-sample spelt-bread wheat set to several potential diagnostic methods. DNA markers for γ-gliadin-D (GAG56D), γ-gliadin-B (GAG56B), and the Q-gene were used, alongside phenotypic assessment of ease-of-threshing and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). The GAG56B and GAG56D markers demonstrated low diagnostic power in comparison to the Q-gene genotyping, which showed full accordance with the threshing phenotype, providing a highly accurate distinction between bread wheat and spelt kernels. A highly reliable Q classification was based on a three-waveband NIR model [Kappa (0.97), R-square (0.93)], which suggested that this gene influences grain characteristics. Our data ruled out a protein concentration bias of the NIRS-based diagnosis. These findings highlight the Q gene and NIRS as important, valuable, but simple tools for distinguishing between bread wheat and spelt.
2018
Broide, E. ; Reifen, R. ; Matalon, S. ; Berkovich, Z. ; Shirin, H. Expression of duodenal iron transporter proteins in diabetic patients with and without iron deficiency anemia. Journal of Diabetes Research 2018, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The role of iron transport proteins in the pathogenesis of anemia in patients with diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is still unclear. We investigated the expression of duodenal transporter proteins in diabetic patients with and without iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Methods. Overall, 39 patients were included: 16 with T2DM and IDA (group A), 11 with T2DM without IDA (group B), and 12 controls (group C). Duodenal mucosal expression of divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), ferroportin 1 (FPN), hephaestin (HEPH), and transferrin receptor 1 (TfR) was evaluated by Western blotting. Chronic disease activity markers were measured as well. Results. FPN expression was increased in group A compared to group B and controls: 1.17 (0.72-1.46), 0.76 (0.53-1.04), and 0.71 (0.64-0.86), respectively (p = 0 011). TfR levels were over expressed in groups A and B compared to controls: 0.39 (0.26-0.61), 0.36 (0.24-0.43), and 0.18 (0.16-0.24), respectively, (p = 0 004). The three groups did not differ significantly with regard to cellular HEPH and DMT1 expression. The normal CRP and serum ferritin levels, accompanied with normal FPN among diabetic patients without IDA, do not support the association of IDA with chronic inflammatory state. Conclusion. In patients with T2DM and IDA, duodenal iron transport protein expression might be dependent on body iron stores rather than by chronic inflammation or diabetes per se. Copyright © 2018 Efrat Broide et al.
Yahav, S. ; Berkovich, Z. ; Ostrov, I. ; Reifen, R. ; Shemesh, M. Encapsulation of beneficial probiotic bacteria in extracellular matrix from biofilm-forming Bacillus subtilis. Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine, and Biotechnology 2018, 46, 974-982. Publisher's VersionAbstract
AbstractProbiotics, live microbial supplements, are often incorporated into foods and beverages to provide putative health benefits. To ensure their beneficial effects, these organisms must survive processing and storage of food, its passage through the upper gastrointestinal tract (GIT), and subsequent chemical ingestion processes until they reach their target organ. However, there is considerable loss of viability of probiotic bacteria in the acidic conditions of the stomach and the high bile concentration in the small intestine. Bacillus subtilis, a spore-forming non-pathogenic bacterium, recently has gained interest in its probiotic properties; it can effectively maintain a favorable balance of microflora in the GIT. In addition, B. subtilis produces an extracellular matrix that protects it from stressful environments. We suggested that the extracellular matrix produced by B. subtilis could protect other probiotic bacteria and therefore potentially could be used as a vehicle for delivering viable probiotic cells to humans. Therefore, we developed a novel cultivation system that enables co-culturing of B. subtilis along with probiotic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) by increasing production of the extracellular matrix by B. subtilis cells. Moreover, we showed that B. subtilis improved survivability of LAB during food preparation, storage and ingestion. Therefore, we believe that the results of our study will provide a novel technique of using a natural system for preservation and delivery of probiotics to humans.
2017
Argov-Argaman, N. ; Mandel, D. ; Lubetzky, R. ; Kedem, M. H. ; Cohen, B. - C. ; Berkovitz, Z. ; Reifen, R. Human milk fatty acids composition is affected by maternal age. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2017, 30, 34-37.Abstract
Human colostrums and transition milk were collected from women under the age of 37 years and women aged 37 years and older. Transition milk of the younger group had lower fat content and 10-fold higher concentrations of omega 6 FA, eicosadecanoic, and arachdonic acids. Gestational age affected the colostrum concentration of total fat and omega 3 and omega 6 FA composition only in the older group. We concluded that age may be a factor in the FA composition of human milk. This should be taken into account when planning diets for pregnant women of different ages.
Bar-El Dadon, S. ; Reifen, R. Vitamin A and the epigenome. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2017, 57, 2404-2411. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ABSTRACTThe epigenetic phenomena refer to heritable changes in gene expression other than those in the DNA sequence, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications. Major research progress in the last few years has provided further proof that environmental factors, including diet and nutrition, can influence physiologic and pathologic processes through epigenetic alterations, which in turn influence gene expression. This influence is termed nutritional epigenetics, and one prominent example is the regulation of gene transcription by vitamin A through interaction to its nuclear receptor.Vitamin A is critical throughout life. Together with its derivatives, it regulates diverse processes including reproduction, embryogenesis, vision, growth, cellular differentiation and proliferation, maintenance of epithelial cellular integrity and immune function.Here we review the epigenetic role of vitamin A in cancer, stem cells differentiation, proliferation, and immunity. The data presented here show that retinoic acid is a potent agent capable of inducing alterations in epigenetic modifications that produce various effects on the phenotype. Medical benefits of vitamin A as an epigenetic modulator, especially with respect to its chronic use as nutritional supplement, should rely on our further understanding of its epigenetic effects during health and disease, as well as through different generations.
Wiseman, E. M. ; Bar-El Dadon, S. ; Reifen, R. The vicious cycle of vitamin a deficiency: A review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2017, 57, 3703-3714. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ABSTRACTVitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a serious and widespread public health problem and the leading cause of preventable blindness in young children. It is also associated with increased rates of death from severe infections, especially in developing countries. Over the past 35 years, researchers have examined the numerous activities of vitamin A in different tissues of the human body. VAD can lead to a series of ocular symptoms, anemia, and weak resistance to infection, which can increase the severity of infectious diseases and the risk of death. Cell development, vision, growth, and normal metabolism are among the vital processes that are insufficiently supported in the presence of VAD. VAD leads to impaired tissue function especially during the developmental periods of infancy, childhood, pregnancy, and lactation. We describe a multidirectional model of VAD that demonstrates how VAD can have progressive, negative effects on vital processes of the human body throughout the life cycle. This model starts with impaired intake and its link to decreased absorption and digestion and includes outcomes such as malnutrition, inflammation, and improper growth processes, including possible mechanisms. Together, these clinical and biochemical manifestations contribute to the vicious cycle of VAD.
Ramos-Lopez, O. ; Milagro, F. I. ; Allayee, H. ; Chmurzynska, A. ; Choi, M. S. ; Curi, R. ; De Caterina, R. ; Ferguson, L. R. ; Goni, L. ; Kang, J. X. ; et al. Guide for Current Nutrigenetic, Nutrigenomic, and Nutriepigenetic Approaches for Precision Nutrition Involving the Prevention and Management of Chronic Diseases Associated with Obesity. Lifestyle Genomics, 2017, 10, 43 - 62. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Chronic diseases, including obesity, are major causes of morbidity and mortality in most countries. The adverse impacts of obesity and associated comorbidities on health remain a major concern due to the lack of effective interventions for prevention and management. Precision nutrition is an emerging therapeutic approach that takes into account an individual's genetic and epigenetic information, as well as age, gender, or particular physiopathological status. Advances in genomic sciences are contributing to a better understanding of the role of genetic variants and epigenetic signatures as well as gene expression patterns in the development of diverse chronic conditions, and how they may modify therapeutic responses. This knowledge has led to the search for genetic and epigenetic biomarkers to predict the risk of developing chronic diseases and personalizing their prevention and treatment. Additionally, original nutritional interventions based on nutrients and bioactive dietary compounds that can modify epigenetic marks and gene expression have been implemented. Although caution must be exercised, these scientific insights are paving the way for the design of innovative strategies for the control of chronic diseases accompanying obesity. This document provides a number of examples of the huge potential of understanding nutrigenetic, nutrigenomic, and nutriepigenetic roles in precision nutrition.
Bar-El Dadon, S. ; Abbo, S. ; Reifen, R. Leveraging traditional crops for better nutrition and health - The case of chickpea. Trends in Food Science & Technology 2017, 64, 39 - 47. Publisher's VersionAbstract
BackgroundAdequate nutrition in early life is a prerequisite for human capital formation and economic development. Although poor feeding practices is a problem predominantly thought to exist in low-income and middle income countries, malnutrition is rapidly rising among developed nations as well. In this context, and in light of scarcity of protein sources, utilization of crops-such as chickpea-as a source of micro and macro nutrients is mandatory in the long route to nutritional improvement. Scope and approach In this review, we outline interesting features of the chickpea crop, in terms of its nutritional value and agronomic potential that may help combat several health issues in both Western countries as well as in many low income sectors in developing countries. Key Findings and Conclusions: On the global scale, chickpea consumption is steadily increasing in recent years. In developing countries, chickpea brings a variety of taste and texture to the cereal-based diet, as well as high-quality protein, fiber, carbohydrates and minerals, thereby ensuring a balanced diet and improving the nutritional status of the population. In developed countries, chickpea may be an ultimate source of protein for the increasing vegetarian/vegan populations. On top of that, allergenicity issues, content of phytoestrogens and more, are negligible in chickpea. For all these reasons, this crop should be considered as an outstanding source of protein, the ultimate alternative to soybeans, as well as the next health-food for human consumption.
Ben-Ishay, N. ; Oknin, H. ; Steinberg, D. ; Berkovich, Z. ; Reifen, R. ; Shemesh, M. Enrichment of milk with magnesium provides healthier and safer dairy products. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 2017, 3 24. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Biofilms on the surfaces of milk-processing equipment are often a major source of contamination of dairy products. Members of the genus Bacillus appear to be among the most commonly found bacteria in dairy farms and processing plants. Bacillus species may thrive in dairy farm equipment and in dairy products since they can form robust biofilms during growth within milk. We found that fortification of milk with magnesium mitigated biofilm formation by Bacillus species, and thus could notably reduce dairy product spoilage. We also show that the mode of action of Mg2+ ions is specific to inhibition of transcription of genes involved in biofilm formation. Our further findings indicate that in the presence of Mg2+ bacterial cells are hypersensitive to the heat pasteurization applied during milk processing. Additionally, we demonstrated that enrichment of milk with magnesium improved technological properties of milk products such as soft cheeses. Finally, we report that there is a notable increase in the intestinal bioavailability potential of magnesium from supplemented milk compared with that from non-supplemented milk.
Livshits, O. E. ; Shauol, R. ; Reifen, R. ; Matthias, T. ; Lerner, A. Can Celiac Disease Present Along With Childhood Obesity?. International Journal of Celiac Disease 2017, 5 19 - 23. Publisher's Version
2016
Stark, A. H. ; Reifen, R. ; Crawford, M. A. Past and Present Insights on Alpha-linolenic Acid and the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Family. Critical Reviews in Food Science and NutritionCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2016, 56, 2261 - 2267. Publisher's Version
Lubetzky, R. ; Argov-Argaman, N. ; Mimouni, F. B. ; Armoni Domany, K. ; Shiff, Y. ; Berkovitz, Z. ; Reifen, R. ; Mandel, D. Fatty acids composition of human milk fed to small for gestational age infants. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal MedicineThe Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 2016, 29, 3041 - 3044. Publisher's Version