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Human Metabolism


Studies on human metabolism are performed within the Metabolic and Vascular Health unit in close collaboration with the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. The Human Metabolism Research Unit (HMRU) and the Warwickshire Institute for the Study of Endocrinology and Metabolism (WISDEM) are both accommodated within University Hospital and benefit from the close cooperation between clinicians and scientist.

The main interest is in the study of the causes and alleviation of the metabolic effects of chronic metabolic diseases including type-2 and gestational diabetes, obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Therefore, the studies range from those aimed at understanding the determinants of appetite and effects of food intake, to the elucidation of the effects of gut peptides (e.g. oxyntomodulin) on whole-body metabolism.

These studies are made possible through the availability of state-of-the art human whole-body indirect calorimeters which accurately determine the rate at which different metabolic fuels are utilised by patients undergoing acute metabolic perturbations (e.g food intake, exercise, cold-exposure). In addition, the effects of micronutrients and pharmacological treatments on the aetiology and resolution of chronic metabolic conditions are studied through the use of clinical trials.

Current research:

Current research in the field includes:

Metabolic and appetite effects of changes in food-intake behaviour (e.g. meal frequency and duration)

  • The effects of cold-exposure on energy consumption and brown adipose tissue activity in individuals of varying adiposity
  • Identification of brown adipose tissue depots in humans using IDEAL-Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology
  • The role of the loss of thiamine transporters in the aetiology of dysfunctional thiamine metabolism (increased washout) resulting in diabetic nephropathy and other vascular complications
  • Hyperglycaemia associated decreases in expression of thiamine transporters THTR-1 and THTR-1 in the kidney in diabetes, resulting in increased washout of thiamine and tissue specific deficiency of the vitamin, and linked to the development of diabetic nephropathy and other vascular complications. Effect of hyperglycaemia on signalling via transcription factor Sp1 is likely involved
  • Metabolic effects of obesity-related secondary hypothyroidism and its treatment with testosterone-replacement therapy
  • Effects of mental stress on metabolism and diurnal hormone rhythms: effects of music therapy
  • The effects of Liraglutide on biomarkers of the metabolic syndrome in PCOS
  • Effects of the intake of bioactive compounds in ‘superfoods’ (e.g. broccoli) on whole-body metabolism and plasma lipid dynamics
  • Effects of gut peptides (e.g. oxyntomodulin) on whole-body metabolism
  • Identification of genetic biomarkers for the development of postnatal depression in women
  • Association of pregnancy outcomes (foetal and maternal) with micronutrient status of the mother, particularly with respect to B12 and folate
  • Development of blood-based tests for the early detection of Trisomy 21


We receive funding from the following sources:
  • Medical Research Council
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
  • Pharmaceutical industry

Associated academic staff:

  • Tom Barber
  • Mark Christian
  • Christopher Harrold
  • Muller Jurgen
  • Graham Ladds
  • Philip McTernan
  • Joseph Paul O'Hare
  • Naila Rabbani
  • Karuna Sampath
  • Ponnusamy Saravanan
  • Saverio Stranges
  • Paul Thornalley