assist. prof. dr. Ana Petelin – PHD TOPICS

Name and Surname: assist. prof. Ana Petelin, PhD
ARRS 24764

Research facility (research activity location)
Univerza na Primorskem, Fakulteta za vede o zdravju

Research field according to ARRS classification
Science: 3 Medicina
Field: Metabolne in hormonske motnje

Summary of research topic and field

Through the last decades, the correlation between the human diet, obesity, and the onset of chronic non-communicable diseases has been widely researched. Overweight and obesity are defined as: “Abnormal or the excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.” The main cause of obesity is the imbalance between the consumption of energy and its expenditure. Such an environment encourages physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, and an abundance of energy-dense food, particularly rich in fat and sugars. This has led to the development of “Western diet,” characterized by high intake of refined sugars, saturated fats, and salt, while simultaneously by low intake of complex carbohydrates along with dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish and seafood. As a consequence, ω-6 to ω-3 ratio is much higher in Western diets (15:1 to 16:1), comparing to results of several anthropological, epidemiological and molecular studies, indicating that humans evolved on a diet with a ω-6: ω-3 ratio being ~1. This type of diet is not only responsible for the rising prevalence of obesity but is as well correlated with increased global morbidity and mortality More specifically, suboptimal diet (such as Western diet) and obesity are known to increase the risk of various chronic non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, some types of cancer, and dementias. Exact biological mechanisms in the relation between obesity and etiology and/or progression of mentioned diseases are still not well-understood. However, it is known that oxidative stress is involved in the pathology of the latter. Regular consumption of the Western diet increases systemic oxidative stress and the cumulative formation of oxidative modifications on several macromolecules in different tissues. Some findings demonstrated that fish oil supplementation to a suboptimal diet could selectively counteract that oxidative damage in the liver, improving insulin resistance. Also, the effects of fish oil supplementation as a strategy to counteract the effects of a high-fat and/or high-sugar diet on those oxidative modifications have been poorly studied. Thus, the phD’s thesis aims to evaluate the role of a high-fat high-sucrose diet as diet-induced obesity and high-fat-sucrose diet with fish oil on oxidative stress in HepG2 cells.