Our group’s main project, FastBio, focuses on the molecular impact of dietary restriction in humans.
Dietary restriction extends healthspan in multiple species and has beneficial effects for human health. To address the molecular effects of dietary restriction, we have established the FastBio project. FastBio includes over 400 healthy Greek individuals, 200 of whom abstain from meat, dairy products and eggs for ~200 days annually in a temporally structured manner for a minimum of 10 years (Orthodox Christian Religious Fasting, RF). FastBio also includes 200 participants who follow an unstructured, general-population diet (Non-Fasting, NF). In FastBio we address the effects of dietary restriction through the study of multiple higher-level, molecular and cellular phenotypes collected at two timepoints to capture long-term and acute effects of dietary restriction.
Our project has three broad objectives:
1. Biostatistical analysis: investigation of the effects of dietary restriction on higher-level phenotypes including anthropometric, physiological and biomarker traits.
2. Molecular phenotypes: addressing the impact of dietary restriction on multiple molecular phenotypes including the transcriptome and methylome from whole blood, the plasma proteome and metabolome, as well as the gut microbiome. The impact of genetic variation on the above molecular phenotypes is also explored with the aim to define molecular signatures and their genetic drivers that capture long-term and acute effects of dietary restriction.
3. Cell culture (primary): characterizing immune system cells from religious fasting and from non-fasting individuals through immunophenotyping and recording how they respond to stimuli in vitro to address the emerging role of immune cells in detecting and integrating metabolic cues.
Ultimately our aim is to identify comprehensive biological signatures influenced by dietary restriction, to understand how these overlap with molecular pathways influencing disease risk and progression, and to investigate the potential use of dietary intake as a therapeutic agent.
Our group’s interest in metabolic phenotypes also extends to exploring gene regulation in two types of white adipose tissue from humans (subcutaneous and visceral fat) to understand how genetic variation and different environmental influences can shape gene expression (Greek Metabo project). Through this project we also aim to understand the regulatory basis of disease risk and the molecular underpinnings of disease mechanisms.
We have also set up and carried out the first exome sequencing projects in Greece including investigation of the genetic basis of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in Greek families, as well as the genetic basis of Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome a congenital disorder leading to infertility in women.