Mirko Trajkovski Group
Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism - Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva
Project at a glance
The main interests of our lab are the molecular mechanisms underlying metabolic diseases, primarily obesity and insulin resistance.
Mammals have two types of fat: brown and white, with opposing functions. The white fat is an important regulator of the whole body homeostasis that also serves to store energy in the form of triglycerides.
The main function of the brown fat is to burn lipids in order to produce heat, a function that can be induced by cold exposure or diet.
Recent evidence strongly supports the existence of functional brown fat in adult humans. Promotion of increased brown fat development in humans and experimental mice leads to increased energy expenditure without causing dysfunction in other tissues, suggesting the manipulation of the fat stores as an important therapeutic objective.
The first part of our research aims at identifying metabolically active miRNAs and factors, and investigating their roles in animal models of obesity (primarily mice and rats), as well as in primary cultures of precursor cells using systems biology and targeted approaches.
We are generating and using tools that enable us to screen for drugs and peptides involved in brown and white adipose tissue differentiation and function, and in lineage tracing studies to identify the origin of the brown adipocytes.
The second part of our research is focused on the role of the gut microbiota in the development of metabolic diseases, primarily dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance, and in particular the response of the host to the changes in the gut microbiota composition.
A deeper understanding of these axes is a prerequisite for optimizing therapeutic strategies to manipulate the gut microbiota and the host response to combat disease and improve health.