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NEWSLETTER #1

Bioenergetic Remodeling in the Pathophysiology and Treatment of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Project ID: 722619. Funded under: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2016 -722619-FOIE GRAS

Paulo Oliveira Foie Gras

Message from the Project Coordinator

Paulo J. Oliveira

Dear reader,

It is my pleasure to introduce you to this newsletter from the FOIE GRAS project. The FOIE GRAS project brings together experts from a range of disciplines in liver diseases and metabolism from academic and non-academic partners (biotechnological companies and patient association).

FOIE GRAS aims to investigate how internal and external mediators underlying metabolic dysfunction, including hepatic bioenergetic remodeling and modified gut-liver crosstalk, influence NAFLD progression, to ascertain novel biomarkers and therapeutic /lifestyle targets and to develop and implement science in society initiatives addressing NAFLD awareness.

FOIE GRAS- Innovative Training Network (ITN), expects to train a new generation of researchers and science communicators, with a novel attitude and understanding of the requests of academia, clinical practice, technological companies, and the societal challenges. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the newest members of FOIE GRAS, the 13 Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) who have recently joined the project.

This publication is designed to fulfill one of the purposes of this project, namely to create a constant flow of communication between all the stakeholders involved, constructing as a result, a truly holistic approach on Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) management.

Enjoy reading and stay tuned!

- Paulo J. Oliveira

Project News

FOIE GRAS Kick-off meeting

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FOIE GRAS Partners met for the first time at the Kick Off Meeting on 16-17 January 2017 at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. The project consortium met over two days in order to ensure a quick start of all project activities. The project is coordinated by CNC, University of Coimbra and consortium consist of Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas CSIC-CCHS (Spain), National Research Council (Italy), Universidade do Porto (Portugal), FFUL (Portugal), IPHYS (Czech Republic), Helmholtz Zentrum München (Germany), INSERM (France), NENCKI (Poland), MEDIAGNOST GMBH (Germany), MICROBIOLYTICS GMBH (Germany), APDP Diabetes (Portugal), Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro (Italy), CNC-University of Coimbra (Portugal).

RTP Notícias

On February 2 2017 Dr. Paulo Oliveira, FOIE GRAS project coordinator, gave an interview for RTP Notícias.

Mentes Que Brilham

Dr. Paulo Oliveira at Program Mentes Que Brilham - Porto Canal 29.04.2017

Scientific Meetings

51st Annual Scientific Meeting of the European Society for Clinical Investigation in Genoa, Italy

51st Annual Scientific Meeting

Researchers from the FOIE GRAS project were part of the organization and gave talks at the 51st Annual Scientific Meeting of the European Society for Clinical Investigation that took place in Genoa, Italy on May 17-19 2017. During the meeting were organized high quality workshops on phagocyte biology, mitochondrial biology, rheumatology, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases/lifestyle and nephrology.

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NAFLD Summit

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Dr. Cecilia Rodrigues, Project FOIE GRAS researcher will participate at First EASL NAFLD Summit: “Target-oriented approach to diagnosis and pharmacotherapy of NASH: A dialogue between academia and industry”, which will be held in Rome, Italy from 09-11 November 2017.  Her talk will be on the use of “miRNAs as biomarkers and targets” for treating NAFLD. Also some of our ESR (Bárbara Patrício, Sara Guerra, Raquel Baccetto and Emilio Molina Molina) had fantastic opportunity to participate at the event and hear the lectures from the eminent speakers in the field.

Network School

ESRs Kick-off meeting and First Network School Cantanhede, Portugal (September 2017)

The FOIE GRAS ESRs Kick-off meeting and the First Summer School named “Tools and rationale for measuring mitochondrial function in intact cells and isolated mitochondria” was held at UC Biocant, Cantanhede, Portugal from 18-22 September 2017.

The aim of this Summer School was to introduce FOIE GRAS ESRs and other participants to the recent advances in measurements of mitochondrial function and dysfunction. Many interesting lectures were presented from eminent scientists in the field. Also, ESRs had a great opportunity to have a hands-on experience during the practical part of the course given by Luxcel Biosciences and Agilent.

ESRs Kick-off 2
ESRs Kick-off 1

Public Engagement

Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra

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The FOIE GRAS coordinator, Dr.Paulo Oliveira, participated in the “Chá das 3" event at Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra, on Saturday, 14th January 2017.

He talked to the public about issues related to fatty liver metabolism and disease and their relationship with obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. The topic of discussion was “Is Fat Bad for Your Health?

Also as a part of the Science in a family event organized by CNC UC and Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, he explained to the young participants what  cells and mitochondria are.

European Researchers Night (ERN)

FoieGras European Researchers’ Night ERN Coimbra 2

On 29 September 2017 Project FOIE GRAS was presented at the “European Researchers’ Night (ERN)” in several locations throughout Europe: Science Museum of the University of Coimbra (Portugal); FFUL, Lisbon (Portugal); CNR (Italy), NENCKI (Poland) etc.
The general public in all institution had a great opportunity to learn more about the NAFL disease and Project FOIE GRAS via very interesting interactive games, demonstrations and public engagement.
At CNC Açucarómetro/Gordurómetro (SUGARmeter/FATmeter) game was developed focusing on nutrition and its role on NAFLD. In this game participants have to classify food items in two different boards, one for sugars or carbohydrates, and the other one for fats. The goal was to place all food items correctly and if successful, the participant will manage to eliminate all the fat of our liver, which in this case is represented by color magnets placed in a cork liver.

European Researchers Night (ERN) 2
European Researchers Night (ERN) 1

FOIE GRAS project at III Science Fair – Oliveira do Bairro, Portugal

FOIE GRAS project at III Science Fair - Oliveira do Bairro, Portugal

Project FOIE GRAS was presented at the III Science Fair at Oliveira do Bairro on 4 October 2017. This science communication event has a major goal of promoting science and technology between the local community. Our FOIE GRAS ESRs Adriana Filipa Fontes and Mireia Alemany Pagès implemented hands on interactive game and activity among primary and secondary school students explaining the seriousness of NAFLD disease and importance of implementation of healthy food habits in daily life.

Publications

2017.10.31

“Reversing the burden of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”

“Reversing the burden of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” is an article published in the "Impact Journal" promoting FOIE GRAS project. This article highlight the FOIE GRAS project objectives and explains how the project team will work together to gain the greater understanding of the mechanism behind non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The major FOIE GRAS project objectives are:

• Offer innovative training for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in order to provide them with critical aptitude and experience for careers in basic science, clinical investigation and health industry sectors
• Gain a greater understanding of the mechanisms behind non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), to relieve the burden of the disease, from both a health and economic perspective
• Develop and implement strategic communication and educational activities addressing NAFLD awareness, with the aim of informing the general public about NAFLD and promoting healthy lifestyles

The article was published in Impact Journal in October 2017 issue, pg. 86-87.

November, Vol. 16 (Suppl. 1), 2017: s87-s105

"Bile Acids and Cancer: Direct and Environmental-Dependent Effects"

Agostino Di Ciaula, David Q.-H. Wang, Emilio Molina-Molina, Raquel Lunardi Baccetto, Giuseppe Calamita, Vincenzo O. Palmieri, Piero Portincasa

ABSTRACT 

Bile acids (BAs) regulate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, cholesterol and lipids but have also a key role as signaling molecules and in the modulation of epithelial cell proliferation, gene expression and metabolism. These homeostatic pathways, when disrupted, are able to promote local inflammation, systemic metabolic disorders and, ultimately, cancer. The effect of hydrophobic BAs, in particular, can be linked with cancer in several digestive (mainly oesophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, biliary tract, colon) and extra-digestive organs (i.e. prostate, breast) through a complex series of mechanisms including direct oxidative stress with DNA damage, apoptosis, epigenetic factors regulating gene expression, reduced/increased expression of nuclear receptors (mainly farnesoid X receptor, FXR) and altered composition of gut microbiota, also acting as a common interface between environmental factors (including diet, lifestyle, exposure to toxics) and the molecular events promoting cancerogenesis. Primary prevention strategies (i.e. changes in dietary habits and lifestyle, reduced exposure to environmental toxics) mainly able to modulate gut microbiota and the epigenome, and the therapeutic use of hydrophilic BAs to counterbalance the negative effects of the more hydrophobic BAs might be, in the near future, part of useful tools for cancer prevention and management.

DOI: 10.5604/01.3001.0010.5501.

Keywords: Bile acids. Cancer. Microbiota. FXR. Environment. Epigenome. 

November, Vol. 16 (Suppl. 1), 2017: s4-s14

"Bile Acid Physiology"

Agostino Di Ciaula, Gabriella Garruti, Raquel Lunardi Baccetto, Emilio Molina-Molina, Leonilde Bonfrate, David Q.-H. Wang, Piero Portincasa

ABSTRACT 

The primary bile acids (BAs) are synthetized from cholesterol in the liver, conjugated to glycine or taurine to increase their solubility, secreted into bile, concentrated in the gallbladder during fasting, and expelled in the intestine in response to dietary fat. BAs are also bio-transformed in the colon to the secondary BAs by the gut microbiota, reabsorbed in the ileum and colon back to the liver, and minimally lost in the feces. BAs in the intestine not only regulate the digestion and absorption of cholesterol, triglycerides, and fatsoluble vitamins, but also play a key role as signaling molecules in modulating epithelial cell proliferation, gene expression, and lipid and glucose metabolismby activating farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and G-protein-coupled bile acid receptor-1 (GPBAR-1, also known as TGR5) in the liver, intestine, muscle and brown adipose tissue. Recent studies have revealed the metabolic pathways of FXR and GPBAR-1 involved in the biosynthesis and enterohepatic circulation of BAs and their functions as signaling molecules on lipid and glucose metabolism.

DOI: 10.5604/01.3001.0010.5493

Keywords: Bile acids. Microbiota. FXR. Bile.

Contacts

Dr. Paulo Oliveira

Coordinator
CNC University of Coimbra
Email: pauloliv@cnc.uc.pt
Tel: +351 231 249 195

Dr. Liljana Georgievska

Project Manager
CNC University of Coimbra
Email: liljana.georgievska@cnc.uc.pt
Tel: +351 231 249 170

Partners

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The FOIE GRAS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 722619.

This newsletter reflects only the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.