Phone: +41 44 655 74 20
Obesity has replaced under-nutrition and infectious diseases as the leading global health problem. Together with its comorbidities, obesity is a major cause of health costs in developed countries. The tremendous increase in the prevalence of obesity over the last 30 years is thought to be related to a combination of genetic susceptibility, decreased physical activity, and numerous other life style factors including the continuous abundance of attractive high energy and highly palatable food choices that favour overeating. In fact, strong evidence indicates that overeating rather than a decrease in average physical activity is the major reason for the current obesity endemic. Our research aims at characterizing physiological mechanisms that control eating and energy balance and their disturbances. Major topics are:
• The control of eating by peripheral metabolism, in particular by fatty acid oxidation; in this context we investigate how and where peripheral metabolic signals that control eating are generated, and how they are relayed to the brain.
• The role of gut peptides in the control of eating and metabolism; here we focus on the physiological relevance of gut peptides for the control of eating and metabolism, and characterize their local paracrine versus endocrine mechanisms of action.
• The role of pro-inflammatory mediators in disturbances of eating and energy balance; here we investigate the interactions of pro-inflammatory cytokines with putative endocrine and neurochemical signals of energy balance regulation.
Rats, mice, and cell culture systems are used in a translational, integrative and systemic approach that employs transgenic techniques, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and electrophysiology. Because eating behaviour is one important endpoint of this research, we also use elaborated in vivo physiological and behavioural techniques. Sophisticated experimental surgical methods, allowing for the routine use of in vivo techniques that are rarely found elsewhere, are a particular strength of our group. The combination of all these techniques forms the systemic and integrative approach mentioned above. The ultimate aim is to help identify potential targets for the treatment of obesity and its comorbidities in humans.
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