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Human nutrition and lipids: bioavailability, metabolism and regulations
The Research Unit ( is composed of about 55 people including 11 full-time scientists, 15 university assistant professors/professors, 12 engineers/technicians and PhD students The internal organisation of the Research Unit is as follows :

  • Team 1 : C. Chapus/B. Kerfelec : Molecular mechanisms of lipolysis
  • Team 2 : D. Lairon : Lipids bioavailability and postprandial lipid metabolism
  • Team 3 : MJo Amiot-Carlin/P. Borel : Lipophilic vitamins and food micro-components: bioavailability and biological effects
  • Technical core for shared technical activities and analytical methodologies.

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Each team works on specific projects and collaboratively, as part of an integrated approach. Research interests include:

  • The mechanisms of action and structure-function relationships of digestive lipases (gastric lipase, pancreatic lipases).
  • The physico-chemical properties of lipid structures (emulsions, vesicles, membrane-like structures, monolayers, micelles), lipid-lipid and protein-lipid interactions.
  • Essential fatty acid transport and targeting by triglycerides and phospholipids in models and human deficiency syndromes.
  • The mechanisms regulating digestion and bioavailability of lipid nutrients (fatty acids, cholesterol, oxysterols, phytosterols, lipophilic vitamins, carotenoids, polyphenols).
  • The mechanisms involved in lipid apical uptake, intra-cellular trafficking and basal secretion in enterocytes; role of insulin.
  • The postprandial lipid and lipoprotein occurrence and metabolism in the context of normal or altered metabolism related to cardiovascular risk.
  • The lipid uptake, storage and metabolism in the adipocyte, regulations by lipids, micro-constituents and hormones.
  • The effects of lipids and micro-constituents on gene expression (enzymes, carrier proteins, cellular and nuclear receptors, intracellular carrier proteins or of lipid metabolism in enterocytes and adipocytes, interactions with nutrients (carbohydrates) and hormones (insulin, T3) in normal and pathological contexts.
  • The interactions between dietary regimen, gene polymorphisms, metabolic syndrome and risks for cardio-vascular disease.

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These projects will be developed using biochemical and molecular methods, cellular models, genetic and nutritional animal models, studies in healthy volunteers or patients suffering from metabolic syndrome, dysregulation of lipid and cholesterol homeostasis.

The human pathologies concerned are cardiovascular diseases, obesity and metabolic syndrome, metabolic complications of diabetes, malabsorption and undernutrition.

The data obtained should provide direct inputs for updating recommended dietary guidelines and support a role for nutrition in public health policy.

Our research Unit is also participating in NUGO (EU-FP6 European Nutrigenomics Organization) (, LYCOCARD (EU-FP6 PI on lycopene and cardiovascular health; and EU COST 926 on food processing and phyto-nutrients (

Research performed from 1998 to 2002 in INSERM led to 144 original publications in international scientific peer-reviewed journals and 20 PhD Thesis projects.

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