Prof. Susanne la Fleur
- The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
- AcademiaNet member since 04.09.2012
- AcademiaNet- Selection Criteria
- Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam
- Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics
- Health and welfare
Biological and related sciences , Health
Area of specialisation
neuroendocrinology, glucose metabolism, feeding behavior, hypothalamus, hormones, metabolism, obesity, diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is a rapidly growing epidemic. Obesity has been identified as one of the main risks for this disease and increased intake of saturated fat and sugar increases the risk to develop Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Our first interest is to understand how nutrients affect the brain and how these changes mediate the overeating as observed in (most) obese people. Secondly, although peripheral actions of both fat and sugar will affect glucose metabolism, it does not explain why some obese individuals become diabetic and why others do not. We therefore focus on the effects of nutrients on the brain as an alternative route via which high caloric diets might mediate the development of diabetes.
We study these research questions with a translational approach using both diet-induced obese animals and human experimental studies. This translational approach is possible because of a close collaboration with the group of dr MJ Serlie (endocrinologist) and the group of Prof dr J Booij (Nuclear Medicine).
1) Within the brain several regions are involved in feeding regulation. We focus on both the hypothalamus, that responds to signals of hunger and satiety and generates the daily rhythm in feeding, and the cortico-limbic system which is involved in rewarding aspects of feeding and motivation to eat. We use different approaches to study the effects of diet composition on the brain and on feeding regulation. We use a) diets with a free-choice of saturated fat and a sugar solution in addition to normal nutritionally balanced chow, as a recognized efficient diet to induce overeating, obesity, insulin resistance and beta cell insufficiency; b) intracarotic catheter infusions to directly deliver nutrients to the brain, c) short term overfeeding studies in healthy volunteers and d) studies in obese subjects.
2) We have shown that animals consuming saturated fat and a sugar solution in addition to regular nutritionally balanced chow rapidly develop insulin resistance and glucose intolerance due to an insufficient insulin response, features preceding diabetes. These changes in glucose metabolism were not explained by obesity since animals consuming saturated fat in addition to chow did become obese but not glucose intolerant. We also showed specific alterations in several regions in the brain due to the diet, not only at the level of the hypothalamus but also in the striatum. To determine whether these alterations in brain are important for glucose metabolism we use both our animal models as well as human experimental studies to determine the role of these changes in glucose metabolism.
Distinctions and Awards
VIDI grant, 2008
Alan N. Epstein Research Award, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, 2008
VENI grant, 2004
Novo Nordisk Award for Endocrinology, 2002
- Lectures, Membership in scientific bodies, Professorship
2001: The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Generated Rhythm in Blood Glucose. A role for the autonomic nervous system (University of Amsterdam)