Metabolic health is of major importance for every animal and human being; unhealthy metabolism results in many physiological disturbances. For instance, overweight or obesity leads in many cases to whole body insulin resistance and can eventually result in diabetes mellitus type II. In recent years, the number of people with overweight and (morbid) obesity is growing rapidly worldwide, pressing for dietary intervention strategies to delay this burden.
Knowledge of the underlying mechanisms and elucidation of the cellular signaling is therefore of utmost importance, and might provide us with possibilities to intervene using dietary strategies. To measure metabolic flexibility in a non-invasive and more sensitive manner, we are developing and implementing new screening methods. Especially several food bioactive compounds have great potential for this approach. Recently, we showed that quercetin, a polyphenol present in relative high levels in our Western diet, induces fatty acid beta oxidation in rats. Other polyphenols also showed effects on energy metabolism, including resveratrol and epigallocatechingallate. One of the intriguing metabolic active tissues is the adipose organ.
The research led by Dr. Evert van Schothorst is focused along two main topics:
- Elucidation of molecular mechanisms of food bioactive compounds, polyphenols, as dietary intervention approach to combat metabolic imbalance(s).
- Elucidation of molecular mechanisms in adipose tissue underlying the initial changes leading to whole body insuline resistance which can be positively affected by dietary compounds.
Recently, several signaling peptides, the so-called adipokines, were discovered showing the inter-organ signaling between adipose tissue and metabolic active tissues like liver, muscle and brain.
Practical work may make use of the high-tech modern techniques of molecular physiologists and biologists today: Western blotting using Odessey, fluorescence phosphoprotein detection, real-time QPCR, whole genome microarray analysis using Agilent system, and/or tissue histology. Furthermore, in all animal studies standard physiological measurements as body weight, weight gain, body composition analysis (fat mass, lean mass) using an Echo-MRI, and food/energy intake, as well as energy expenditure using indirect calorimetry will be used. All will be performed in a scientific group of nutritionists, physiologists, and (molecular) biologists, among others.
For information, contact Dr. Evert van Schothorst