Research of the Metabolism, Aging and Disease focuses on studies of alterations of cell metabolism, especially energy generation pathways, which often result in disease or acceleration of the aging process, namely diabetes, fatty liver disease, skeletal muscle wasting, cardiovascular diseases, infertility and cancer. A highlight of this research area is the role of mitochondrial alterations (oxidative stress) in the context of these diseases. This involves the study of mitochondrial function, and of signalling and stress responses that are altered during the disease or aging process, and how this results in organ degeneration.
The main goals are:
- To understand the lifestyle/diet impact in cell aging, focusing on whether overnutrition/undernutrition or physical activity modulates the signaling pathways normally associated to aging metabolic alterations;
- To understand mitochondrial functionality and how it can be harnessed for biomedical purposes;
- To identify impairments in autophagy and proteolysis in aging and neurodegenerative diseases;
- To investigate the epigenetic regulation of metabolic capacity, namely whether metabolic capacity in the different tissues can be programmed in utero, and transmitted transgenerationally, resulting in pre-disposition to disease or accelerated aging in the adult;
- To identify key serum markers or hormonal/metabolic alterations which anticipate the onset of frailty, focusing on early metabolic alterations that result in later loss of bone or muscle mass;
- To understand the metabolic adaptations that are common to stem cell differentiation and tumorogenesis, in order to provide a basis for novel strategies to control stem cell differentiation and tumorogenesis;
- To elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind human infertility and to develop new clinical tools;
- To investigate the role of metabolism in inflammation and the immune response in chronic diseases.