Nutrients & Metabolic Disease

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Semester 2

Certain nutrients are potent regulators of cell function alongside their essential role in metabolism. Endocrine and nervous systems of higher animals are often regarded as having the dominant role in regulating the responses of tissues to altered nutrient availability, but there is mounting evidence that particular nutrients (perhaps acting through specific receptor or “sensor” mechanisms) have the capability to initiate cell-signalling events and regulate gene expression independently of hormonal influences. Several dietary factors (including glucose, amino acids, fatty acids as well as micronutrients such as iron) have now been implicated as direct regulators of cell signalling and gene expression events in animal cells.

This module will provide a physiological perspective on the ways in which nutrients (here including fuels) modulate both cellular responses and endocrine/neuropeptide function in mammalian cells with particular emphasis on how such modulation is essential for normal physiological homeostasis and how its dysregulation can contribute to the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, autophagy and metabolic dysfunction, which are commonly associated with clinical conditions such as morbid obesity and Type II diabetes.