The undesirable side effects and limited effectiveness of the few currently available pharmacological treatment options for obesity pose an important challenge to basic and clinical research. Several recent developments in gastrointestinal physiology have revitalized obesity-related research in this area. Thus, some gut peptides that potently affect eating also have beneficial effects on metabolism that are, in part, mediated by neuroendocrine or neural reflexes. This makes them attractive candidates for the treatment of obesity and type II diabetes. In fact, the obesity-reversing and antidiabetic effects of bariatric surgery appear to be partly related to the enhanced stimulation of such gut peptides.
Enterocyte metabolism also appears to be involved in nutrient sensing and eating control, and immune reactions in the intestinal wall and the gut microbial population may play a role in energy homeostasis. Unraveling these mechanisms, their interactions, and the various routes of signaling (blood, lymph, neural reflexes) between the gut and other organs including the brain, is a challenge that holds the potential to provide insights for novel treatment options.
In this context we combine our unique repertoire of sophisticated in-vivo methodology with state of the art transgenic and molecular techniques to focus on the role of gut peptides (in particular glucagon-like peptide-1), peripheral metabolism (in particular fatty acid oxidation), and the gut brain communication in the control of food intake and regulation of energy balance.