The Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Division includes several nationally recognized research programs in pancreatic ß-cell biology, muscle and adipose physiology, insulin resistance, nutrition, obesity, lipid biochemistry, and type 2 diabetes.
Four principal investigators spearhead basic and clinical research programs with extensive collaborations within and outside the institution. Particularly strong elements are the complementary backgrounds and multidimensional research perspectives of the faculty and their staff--clinical and basic science experience coupled with state-of-the-art biochemical, molecular, and cellular biology expertise extending to the whole animal and human physiology.
Historically, the Division has an impressive record of landmark clinical investigations that continues today in translational research on energy balance and metabolism in humans and on the effects of dietary fat content on liver and muscle glucose utilization, and muscle lipid metabolism, on diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular risk (Dr. C.L. Kien, PI). These studies include metabolic assessments, measurements of VO2 peak and daily physical activity (accelerometry), muscle and fat biopsy, and an array of molecular, biochemical and metabolomic endpoints with state of the art instrumentation and complex statistical analysis of large data sets (e.g. principal components analysis).
Other translational research projects in the Division include studies on the effects of short chain fatty acids on gut mucosal physiology, pancreatic ß-cell growth, and diabetes risk (Dr. C.L. Kien, PI). The studies are based on the premise that the ingestion of starches and sugars, not fully digested in the human intestine, may provide medical benefit through the microbial production of butyric acid; published work as well as recent preliminary data indicate that butyrate may alter intestinal growth, and enhance β-cell function and peripheral insulin sensitivity.
Key to the basic research initiatives of the Division has been the establishment of a pancreatic Islet Biology Consortium consisting of laboratories with long-standing interests in the development, regeneration, function, and physiological regulation of the insulin-producing ß-cell. Members of the Consortium include Drs. J. Leahy, J. Gupta, T. Jetton, and C.L. Kien. Current projects include:
- ß-cell PPAR-gamma signaling in obesity
- effects of PPAR-gamma agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors on ß-cell mass and function
- the role of PPAR-gamma in ß-cell compensation following partial pancreatectomy
- PPAR-gamma signaling in adaptive islet growth and function
- neural and dietary regulation of ß-cell mass and function