The Nutrition and Metabolism Group is interested in the relationship between diet and coronary artery disease. The general objective of the group is to find natural foods and food components that can protect against the onset and development of atherosclerosis. The first and major research objective is to define which phospholipids (PLs) - naturally occurring fats in the diet - are best able to prevent and reduce arterial disease. The second aim is to define the mechanism by which they do this.
Studies are carried out in experimental mice deficient in apoE -- a protein crucial for the removal of blood fats. ApoE-deficient mice have high blood cholesterol levels and severe atherosclerosis. These animals are fed a normal chow diet or a diet supplemented with PLs having different chemical structures. After 6 weeks on diet, extent and severity of arterial atherosclerosis will be assessed, allowing us to determine which dietary PLs are best able to protect against arterial atherosclerosis. This research will help define which PLs can be used as future nutraceuticals or dietary supplements in patients at increased risk of coronary disease.
A second project, related to the first, is carried out in collaboration with Dr David Sullivan, a leading lipidologist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and a Fellow at the Heart Research Institute. A clinical study will look at the effect of a novel PL-containing dietary supplement on plasma lipid levels and other coronary artery disease risk factors in healthy volunteers and in patients with elevated lipid levels. This clinical research will extend our work on dietary phospholipids and will help establish whether dietary PLs can be considered of nutraceutical benefit for the prevention of coronary artery disease.
Establishment of the Nutraceutical and Functional Food Research Facility at HRI
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