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December 12, 2013 - Researchers Examine Novel Biomarker to Measure Improvement in Bariatric Patients
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From left: Drs. Jonathon Audia, Diego Alverez and Ben Hill

Several University of South Alabama faculty members collaborated in a multidisciplinary research team to put together a report titled, “Bariatric surgery rapidly improves mitochondrial respiration in morbidly obese patients,” after obtaining approval from the Institutional Review Board to conduct a clinical study on bariatric surgery patients. The study focuses on novel mechanisms by which bariatric surgery improves mitochondrial respiration in immune cells and tissues isolated from patients comparing pre- and post-surgical levels. This work was recently published in the Journal of Surgical Endoscopy.

To gauge the short-term effects of bariatric surgical intervention in a cohort of patients with excess body weight, the scientists measured standard blood chemistry metrics. In addition, patients’ skeletal muscle and blood mononuclear cell fraction were analyzed to determine mitochondrial respiration before the operation, and analyzed again 12-weeks after the procedure. Through those measurements, the researchers revealed that beneficial effects of bariatric surgery goes beyond those associated with body weight reduction and involves improvements in mitochondrial respiration and metabolic-related inflammation.

This publication is the first of a broader initiative entitled the “Study to Understand Meta-Inflammation and Obesity” (SUMO), and is comprised of Dr. Jonathon Audia, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Dr. Diego Alvarez, assistant professor in the center for lung biology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, as well as Dr. Benjamin Hill, assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Alabama. Martha O’Hea, Anneliese Boettcher, and Rachel Hoadley are students participating in this research program.

“The long-range goals of SUMO are to explore links between obesity, mitochondrial function, meta-inflammation, and through our collaborators in the psychology department, led by Dr. Benjamin Hill, to also examine the effects of the surgery on cognitive capacity,” said Dr. Audia.

Drs. Alvarez, Audia, and Hill recognize their findings as a suggestion that increased mitochondrial respiration and reduced meta-inflammation may be critical determinants to assess early improvements in patients after bariatric surgical intervention.

The publication was made possible by funding from the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as the ongoing collaboration and support of Dr. Richards and the USA department of surgery.

To read the article published in the Journal of Surgical Endoscopy, click here.

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