Medical School University of Münster, Germany. Visiting scientist 1982-1984 at the Cardiovascular Research Institute, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Dermatology training at the Department of Dermatology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf 1984-1990. Venia legendi in Dermatology and Felix Hoppe Seyler Price awardee of the German Society for Laboratory Medicine 1989. Since 1991 Senior lecturer at the Department of Dermatology, Environmental Medicine and Health Theory, University of Osnabrück; Since 1994 Associate Professor at the University of Osnabrück. Member of the European Society for Dermatological Research. Section editor of the Journal of Translational Medicine; Research interests: milk signaling, milk microRNA-mediated signal transduction, epigenetics of milk, nutrigenomics of acne and rosacea.
This presentation introduces milk as an epigenetic doping system of mammals, which exerts profound effects in health and disease. Milk operates in analogy to a virus infection and transfers a gene-regulatory software consisting of micro-ribonucleic acids (microRNAs) to the milk consumer. More than 60% of human genes are regulated by microRNAs pointing to the enormous importance of milk-derived microRNAs in gene regulation. The microRNAs of milk represent a highly conserved archaic signaling system of mammals explaining the high sequence homology of human breast milk and cow´s milk. The sequence of microRNA-148a, the dominant microRNA species of milk, is absolutely identical in human and cow´s milk. MicroRNA-148a inhibits DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) expression thereby enhancing the expression of developmental genes such as insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO). This epigenetic doping promotes growth and adipogenesis. The MIR148A gene coding microRNA-148a has been identified to promote obesity in humans and lactation performance and milk yield in dairy cows. Milk microRNA-148a contaminates the human food chain because it survives pasteurization and refrigerated storage. This microRNA is further upregulated in high performance dairy cows. It is of critical concern that persistent epigenetic doping via consumption of pasteurized milk may promote the development of diseases of civilization such as obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Thus, bioactive milk microRNAs should be eliminated from the human food chain.