High fat diets, gut health and diabetes

Project Details

Recent human dietary changes have included large increases in the proportions of fats in the diet. These diets are a threat to gut and liver health and for the development of diabetes.

Our recent studies have shown that high fat diets damage enteric neurons, and it is likely that they also impinge on gut endocrine cells. The aim of the study is to determine the extent to which the storage of hormones in enteroendocrine cells and the integrity of enteric neurons are changed by a high fat diet and identify the mechanisms involved.

High fat diets lead to compromised liver function (fatty liver disease) and damage to enteric neurons. The liver disease is probably contributed to by damage to the gut wall, causing gut leakiness and the entry of toxins and bacteria into the veins that take blood from the gut to the liver. A later development is diabetes. Damage to organs is exacerbated by cooking at high temperature, leading to the formation of advanced glycation products.


Dr Rachel McQuade, Project Leader/Supervisor

Professor John Furness, Project Leader/Supervisor

Dr Linda Fothergill

Dr Martin Stebbing

Tess Fazio Coles

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science, Post Doctor Research to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

Rivera LR, Leung C, Pustovit RV, Hunne B, Andrikopoulos S, Herath C, Testro A, Angus PW & Furness JB. Damage to enteric neurons occurs in mice that develop fatty liver disease but not diabetes in response to a high-fat diet. Neurogastroenterol Motil 26, 1188-1199 (2014).

Leung, C, Herath, CB, Jia, Z, Andrikopoulos, S, Brown, BE, Davies, MJ, Rivera, LR, Furness, JB; Forbes, JM, Angus, PW:  Dietary advanced glycation end-products aggravate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  World J Gastroenterol. 22, 8026-8040 (2016)

Leung, C, Rivera, LR, Angus, PW, Furness JB: The role of the gut microbiota in NAFLD. Nature Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 13, 412-425 (2016)

Research Group

Furness laboratory: Digestive physiology and nutrition

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Neuroscience

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