Maratos-Flier/Flier Lab  

This overriding research interest of this lab, headed by Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, MD, is understanding the effects of diet on physiology and metabolic “programming” of tissue function. We are interested in effects of components such as high fat and fructose.

We focus on the following:

  • The role of FGF21 as an omnikine regulating metabolism in multiple tissues;
  • The role of the hypothalamic Neuropeptide in energy balance the use of mice with MCH deletion as a model of human hyperactivity anorexia nervosa;
  • The role of leptin in feeding, behavior and brain function;
  • The role of macronutrient diet composition on metabolism; and
  • Translational studies of agents that may be clinically useful in weight loss in obese subjects.

Dr. Maratos-Flier and her team discovered the role of the brain peptide melanin concentrating hormone, which regulates feeding behavior, mood, and energy balance. We are now focused on its mechanism of action. In addition, we have defined the role of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) in regulating the oxidation of fatty acids in the liver and subsequently showed that FGF21 regulates energy expenditure in multiple organs, which could make FGF21 a therapeutic target to treat both weight loss and diabetes.The Flier lab has also made major contributions to the role of leptin. Work in all these areas is ongoing.

More recently we have expanded our research into translational studies in human subjects. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms of weight loss induced by the diabetes drug exenatide as well as how humans defend against increased body weight. Data from a recent collaboration with junior colleagues, Dr. Mark Herman and Dr. Jody Dushay, indicate that in humans FGF21 regulates the response to sugars in the diet, another area of research we are actively pursuing.

Dr. Maratos-Flier has published more than 100 articles in a wide range of scientific journals. For a complete listing of her publications, click here.