The rising prevalence of obesity worldwide and its associated metabolic derangements, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, pose an enormous public health challenge. Dr. James Lo is a physician-scientist, specializing in cardiovascular medicine and directing a basic research lab. The primary focus of the lab is to investigate the molecular mechanisms of cardiometabolic diseases with the ultimate goal of developing novel treatments directed against them.
Recently, our work has led to the identification of adipsin as a critical molecular link connecting obesity and adipose tissue homeostasis to pancreatic beta cell function in type II diabetes. Adipsin, also known as complement factor D, is an adipokine secreted by adipocytes and is decreased in models of obesity and diabetes. We showed that C3a, a complement peptide downstream of adipsin is a novel insulin secretagogue, augmenting pancreatic beta cell function. Our study demonstrates that the adipsin/C3a pathway is critical for islet function under metabolic stress and suggests that manipulation of this pathway may represent a novel therapy for cardiometabolic diseases.
The Lo Laboratory is investigating the determinants of metabolic health using state-of-the-art molecular approaches. There are a number of different active projects available including some centered on mechanisms of cardiovascular disease, adipose biology and pancreatic islet function.