NIHS research brings new molecular insights into diabetes risk

Lausanne, Switzerland 10th August 2017. NIHS researchers have taken another step forward in understanding the variability in glycaemic improvements following weight loss in overweight and obese people, and why the risk of developing diabetes varies from one individual to the next.

Obesity is a worldwide issue and a major risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. A low-caloric diet (LCD) is an efficient way to lose weight and generally improve obesity-related co-morbidities, for example by improving glycaemic control. But until now, it has been unclear why some people respond differently to dieting, or why some of those who do successfully lose weight still develop type 2 diabetes

So far, LCD interventions have been performed with the assumption that most subjects would improve their glycaemic profiles. However, clinical models remained insufficient to predict the most likely outcome, and the biological factors associated with long-term outcomes were poorly understood. Research led by NIHS scientists demonstrates how, by combining omics (profiling technologies) with clinical analyses, we can better predict long-term clinical outcomes of a low-caloric diet in obese non-diabetic patients. The results of this work were published yesterday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(1).

Recent NIHS research(2) investigated the link between dyslipidaemia (abnormal lipid content in the blood) and glycaemic control (maintaining normal blood glucose levels to treat or prevent diabetes), and showed a ‘fingerprint’ of lipids in blood that can be used to differentiate between pre-diabetic individuals who are likely to respond to weight loss, and those who are not (read full story).

This latest study focuses on gene expression through transcriptomics analysis, studying the changes in mRNA levels in adipose tissue during LCD and relating those changes with clinical outcomes (weight and glycaemic control) to establish whether they could induce or act as surrogate markers of differences in the way adipocytes function.

“Building on our previous research and our in-house technological expertise in characterising and quantifying the pool of relevant biological molecules, we studied the link between gene expression changes during LCD and how they relate to long-term clinical changes”, explains Armand Valsesia, an NIHS researcher in Nutrition and Metabolic Health, “with the aim of better understanding why individuals respond differently, and predict the success of dietary interventions more accurately.

“Ours is the first transcriptome-wide study involving nearly 200 subjects(3), making it by far the largest ever carried out in this field. It shows which genes involved in lipid metabolism are altered as a result of dietary intervention, allowing us to predict their physiological outcomes with much greater accuracy and identify those genes whose effects can be specifically modulated by diet. This represents an additional step toward the development of new and adapted nutritional solutions to help non-responders improve their metabolic health.”


About NIHS:

NIHS is a biomedical research institute, part of Nestlé’s global R&D network, dedicated to fundamental research aimed at understanding health and disease and developing science-based, targeted nutritional solutions for the maintenance of health. To achieve its aim, NIHS employs state-of-the-art technologies and biological models to characterise health and disease with a holistic and integrated approach. The ultimate goal of the Institute is to develop knowledge that can empower people to better maintain their health through nutritional approaches, especially in relation to their molecular profile and lifestyle status.


(1) Armenise, C., Lefebvre, G., Carayol, J., Bonnel, S., Bolton, J., Di Cara, A., Gheldof, N., Descombes, P., Langin, D., Saris, W.H.M., Astrup, A., Hager, J., Viguerie, N. and Valsesia, A. (2017). Transcriptome profiling from adipose tissue during low-caloric diet reveals predictors of weight and glycemic outcomes in obese, non-diabetic subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 2017;106:736–46.

(2) Valsesia, A., Saris, W.H.M., Astrup, A., Hager, J. and Masoodi, M. (2016). Distinct lipid profiles predict improved glycemic control in obese, non-diabetic patients following low-caloric diet intervention: the DiOGenes randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, Aug 10, 104:1–10.

(3) As part of a wider pan-European research programme called ‘Diogenes’: Diogenes is a pan-European Programme of the EU Sixth Framework for Research and Technological Development (2005-2009). Diogenes targets the obesity problem from a dietary perspective, seeking new insights and new routes to treatment and prevention. The name Diogenes is an acronym that stands for "Diet, Obesity and Genes”. Diogenes was supported by 14.5 million Euros of EU funding, with a total project budget of 20.1 million Euros. The five-year programme involved a consortium of 29 partners across Europe. It was made up of world-class centres in diet and health studies, epidemiology, dietary genomics and food technology. It also included 3 major food industrials and 5 small and medium-sized enterprises. Based on the new knowledge generated, the project has demonstrated prototypes of innovative products or advice regimes which help susceptible individuals to avoid weight gain and re-gain.

For enquiries, please contact:
Laura Camurri, Communications, NIHS

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