OBpig: A pig model for studies of gene-diet interaction in development of obesity and its metabolic complications.

Main applicant: Professor Merete Fredholm

Co-applicants: Professor André Chwalibog, Associate professor Peter Karlskov-Mortensen, Associate professor Camilla V.S. Bruun, Associate professor Susanna Cirera, Professor MSO Claus B. Jørgensen.

Objective:

In this project we will use a novel and highly innovative approach to identify gene-diet interactions in development of obesity and its metabolic complications using the pig as a model. We will use a pig model specifically designed for obesity studies to: (i) establish novel functional information on genes and genomic components involved in the regulation of obesity, and (ii) establish detailed knowledge on gene–diet interaction in well-controlled studies. Focus will be on effects of high protein diet – a diet that has been suggested to increase body fat loss and attenuate reduction in fat-free mass. We will elucidate if obesity development is driven by reduction in energy expenditure or increased accumulation of energy as fat in adipose tissue and identify the genes regulating these processes. The study will pave the way for the translation of progress from molecular genetics into new interventions and treatment improving the general welfare in the population at large. 

Originality and impact

OBpig is an interdisciplinary project relying on integration of genetics/genomics and nutritional physiology. The prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases are increasing dramatically across the globe and in some areas it has reached epidemic proportions. This underlines the need for more sustainable treatments and cure that can only be found through innovation. The project is unique because of the very purpose-directed design of the animal model ensuring that information can readily be translated to humans. It will provide comprehensive understanding of the underlying genetic mechanisms involved in the susceptibility and development of obesity paving the way to management and eventual control and prevention of obesity. Furthermore, its cross cutting and interdisciplinary nature comprising molecular genetics, systems biology, nutritional physiology and functional genomics, ensures an excellent scientific outset for Post doc, Ph.D and master projects about one of the most severe disease problems facing humanity.

The project will elucidate if obesity development is driven by reduction in energy expenditure or increased accumulation of energy as fat in adipose tissue and identify the genes regulating these processes. This can potentially be of importance to the food industry resulting in novel opportunities to identify compounds/features of food that may be unhealthy due to their propensity to promote weight gain and development of obesity in the segment of the population carrying a genetic profile that make them susceptible to obesity. Healthier food will in turn have a positive impact on the general welfare in the population at large. The project will also provide novel information of potential use to the pig breeding industry, i.e. novel information on the influence of feeding on body composition and fat distribution in the body, which could be used to breed pigs to produce highly nutritive pork for human consumption.

Publications

Will be added as they appear.