Identification of damaged protein markers for monitoring health

Many foods contain natural plant components (phytochemicals) which could be advantageous to lifelong health. Using human volunteers and cell culture studies, my research aims to understand these compounds and their effects and to improve ways of assessing their influence on health. For example we are investigating the potential of blueberry phytochemicals to prevent health problems associated with ageing and obesity.

This research could lead to the development of new functional foods or improvements to existing food products. It will also provide health professionals and the public with better information on how changes in diet can be beneficial.

Research focus

Dietary excesses, obesity and cigarette smoking increase the risks of many diseases but certain nutritional compounds could have a protective effect and reduce the risk of developing disease. Any attempt to monitor these effects is dependent on the development of suitable markers to assess health. My research aims to discover novel biomarkers to quantify health optimisation.

The objective is to investigate how metabolic stresses can predispose individuals to chronic disease by giving rise to protein modifications with deleterious effects on function and the role of dietary components in this process. By exploiting protein damage occurring through such processes the aim is to identify novel biomarkers for monitoring the effects of diet on health.

Through studying two processes, interactions of lipid oxidation products and non-enzymic glycosylation reactions, both of which produce modifications within proteins, we have developed novel proteomic methodology to identify damaged proteins in human blood. One such protein modification is the presence of pyrroles. Specific pyrrole targeting methodology is used to capture pyrrole containing proteins, then 2D gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry to identify the damaged proteins. This technique has advantages over the indirect methods previously available and has been used to detect and identify oxidatively-modified proteins in blood plasma from obese volunteers. We are utilising this methodology to develop biomarkers for measuring changes in disease risk following dietary manipulations.

  • The effect of berries on metabolic health: PhD student funded by the Kuwait government
  • Ranawana, V., Raikos, V., Campbell, F., Bestwick, C., Nicol, P., Milne, L. & Duthie, G. (2016). 'Breads fortified with freeze-dried vegetables: quality and nutritional attributes. Part 1: Breads containing oil as an ingredient'. Foods, vol 5, no. 1, 19.
    [Online] DOI: 10.3390/foods5010019
    [Online] AURA: foods_05_00019.pdf
  • Ranawana, V., Campbell, F., Bestwick, C., Nicol, P., Milne, L., Duthie, G. & Raikos, V. (2016). 'Breads Fortified with Freeze-Dried Vegetables: Quality and Nutritional Attributes. Part II: Breads Not Containing Oil as an Ingredient'. Foods, vol 5, no. 3, 62.
    [Online] DOI: 10.3390/foods5030062
    [Online] AURA: foods_05_00062.pdf
  • Williams, LM., Campbell, FM., Drew, JE., Koch, C., Hoggard, N., Rees, WD., Kamolrat, T., Thi Ngo, H., Steffensen, I-L, Gray, SR. & Tups, A. (2014). 'The development of diet-induced obesity and glucose intolerance in C57BL/6 mice on a high-fat diet consists of distinct phases'. PloS one, vol 9, no. 8, e106159.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106159
    [Online] AURA: 2014Williamsetal_PLOSone_.pdf
  • Duthie, G., Campbell, F., Bestwick, C., Stephen, S. & Russell, W. (2013). 'Antioxidant effectiveness of vegetable powders on the lipid and protein oxidative stability of cooked Turkey meat patties: implications for health'. Nutrients, vol 5, no. 4, pp. 1241-1252.
    [Online] DOI: 10.3390/nu5041241
    [Online] AURA: nutrients_05_01241_v2.pdf
  • Heegaard, PMH., Stockmarr, A., Piñeiro, M., Carpintero, R., Lampreave, F., Campbell, FM., Eckersall, PD., Toussaint, MJM., Gruys, E. & Skall Sorensen, N. (2011). 'Optimal combinations of acute phase proteins for detecting infectious disease in pigs'. Veterinary Research, vol 42, pp. 50.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1186/1297-9716-42-50
    [Online] AURA: 1297_9716_42_50.pdf
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