Drs. Mangalam, Lehmler and Camell receive a Collaborative Feasibility Grant from the University of Iowa Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center

Drs. Ashutosh Mangalam, Hans-Joachim Lehmler and Christina Camell Drs. Ashutosh Mangalam, Hans-Joachim Lehmler and Christina Camell were awarded a Collaborative Iowa-Minnesota Pilot and Feasibility Grant from the UI Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. The grant is entitled ‘Environmental Toxicant Glyphosate Synergizes with the Western Diet to Induce Obesity by Increasing Gut Microbial Dysbiosis and Adipose Tissue Inflammation’.

The prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS), which can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, has risen significantly in the last few decades. Both diet and the gut microbiota (trillions of microbes living in our gut) have emerged as critical factors in the susceptibility to or prevention of disease-related symptoms that arise in association with obesity and MetS. An increased caloric intake associated with a Western diet is considered a major driver of obesity and MetS. However, caloric intake alone cannot account for the steep rise in these diseases. Evidence is mounting that exposures to synthetic chemicals in our environment (environmental toxicants) likely contribute to MetS. In particular, the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) currently accounts for 25% of total herbicides used globally. However, it is unknown whether a Western diet and glyphosate together predispose humans to obesity/MetS.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists with expertise in the microbiome (Dr. Mangalam), toxicology and metabolomics (Dr. Lehmler), and adipose tissue inflammation (Dr. Camell) has therefore come together to determine whether exposure to glyphosate amplifies obesity/MetS in mice on a western diet through modulation of gut microbiota and adipose tissue inflammation. This study will be the first step in understanding the role of synergistic environmental factors to predispose and/or exacerbate inflammation and obesity. These findings will lay the groundwork for development of novel strategies to reduce the burden of obesity and MetS on individuals and society.

Dr. Mangalam is an Associate Professor in Pathology, Dr. Lehmler is a Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, and Dr. Camell is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota.

Monday, September 26, 2022