Nutrient sensing in the gastrointestinal tract

Gastrointestinal hormones play a crucial role in the regulation of food intake and insulin release. Our group researches the underlying pathways of gut hormone release in response to nutrients. Targeting these pathways to influence gastrointestinal hormone release gives rise to the development of drugs and foods to treat/prevent diabetes and obesity.

Nutrient sensing may be defined as the ability to sense available nutrients and to generate a physiologically regulatory response to these macronutrients involving digestion and regulation of food intake. One of the principles of nutrient sensing in the gastrointestinal tract is the interactions of nutrients with receptors on the enteroendocrine cells. These enteroendocrine cells respond by secreting gastrointestinal hormones. Another mechanism of nutrient sensing is the uptake of nutrients, this can result in the formation lipid-derived mediators (including N-acylamines like OEA) or in cotransport of ions which leads to membrane depolarisation and gut hormone release.

This project aims to unravel mechanisms of nutrient sensing, focussing on receptors and mediators. We have characterised receptors and gut hormones in the gastrointestinal tract of several species to show specie specific differences. Furthermore, we investigate the effect of a weight loss treatment in morbidly obese subjects on gut nutrient sensing. Lastly, the role of several nutrients and their receptors on gut hormone release is being investigated.


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