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Physiological adaptations to Gravity, and Health

Dernière mise à jour : mercredi 17 juin 2020, par Nicolas Busser

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  Our Mission

Our team conducts an interdisciplinary research program to understand the respective contribution of the ecological, biological and socio-cultural anthropological factors in the regulation of energy balance, weight and metabolic health.

  Our Research Aims

Our approach combines unique models and paradigms set in extreme environments. Using extreme environments, we expect to characterize underlying mechanisms and understand determinants of body weight and metabolic health.

First, we study human physiological adaptations during space flights and their different analogues on Earth. For the last 15 years we have actively participated in the space exploration adventure by studying energy and metabolic adaptions and by proposing and testing strategies to maintain health and performances of astronauts. We have also contributed to the development of research priorities along with space agencies to enable the foreseen human planetary exploration in the next decades.

Second, because physiological adaptations to space are mainly triggered by physical inactivity induced by the lack of gravity, a direct spin-off of our research is to provide key mechanistic data to understand the physiopathology of sedentary behaviors. Our research has important clinical and health implications given that sedentary behaviors have emerged over the last decades as a major public health challenge.

Finally, we study pre-industrial populations in Africa who are at the early stages of the transition from a traditional society towards a modern industrialized society. Our goal is to understand how the socio-eco-anthropological changes we faced in the past have impacted body weight regulation and metabolic health, and contributed to the emergence of the ‘modern’ chronic diseases.

  Our Current Research Projects

Ongoing research projects are the following :

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Physiological adaptations to microgravity

 
We study simulated and actual weightlessness in humans and animal to delineate fundamental adaptations to microgravity and develop original exercise and nutrition countermeasures to prevent or reduce the observed deleterious consequences.
 

Physiological adaptations to microgravity

We study simulated and actual weightlessness in humans and animal to delineate fundamental adaptations to microgravity and develop original exercise and nutrition countermeasures to prevent or reduce the observed deleterious consequences. We are herein participating in the research for space and planetary exploration. Our approach is integrative by studying the cascade of mechanisms underlying these physiological adaptations from the whole-body level to organ, cell, protein and gene levels. We use the ground-based models of bed-rest and dry immersion but also study astronauts during spaceflights. These studies are also providing with unique and solid data to understand the mechanisms underlying the adverse health effects of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors.

Physiology and prevention of sedentary behaviors

 
We are testing the health effects of new strategies to prevent sedentary behaviors, such as breaking up prolonged sitting with short bouts of physical activity.
 

Physiology and prevention of sedentary behaviors

We are testing the health effects of new strategies to prevent sedentary behaviors, such as breaking up prolonged sitting with short bouts of physical activity. This is a translational research project that combines studies in controlled lab settings and in free-living conditions ; the far-reaching goal being to implement these strategies in the real-world, and bring solid novel data to help refining future guidelines on physical activity.

Ecology of health : Impact of epidemiological transition on health

 
Recently, we have initiated a follow up of a semi-nomadic population in Senegal, Africa who has maintained a pre-industrial lifestyle but who is now undergoing massive sedentarization.
 

Ecology of health : Impact of epidemiological transition on health

Recently, we have initiated a follow up of a semi-nomadic population in Senegal, Africa who has maintained a pre-industrial lifestyle but who is now undergoing massive sedentarization. The population is the Fulanis living around the African green wall project. We are examining the respective contribution of changes in diet, sedentary behaviors/physical activity and culture/lifestyles on body mass and metabolic health. This reseach project is conducted in collaboration with the CNRS Observatory Human-Environment Interaction in Tessekere (OHM Tessekere, Labex DRHIM, http://ohmi-tessekere.in2p3.fr) that has several years of experience with this local population. This project is based on the expertise of an interdisciplinary team composed of physiologists, MDs expert in epidemiology, bio-statisticians and bio-anthropologists.

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Development of methods using stable isotopes

 
Our research projects essentially rely on stable isotope labeling techniques to characterize physical activity, nutrition and metabolic health.
 

Development of methods using stable isotopes

Our research projects essentially rely on stable isotope labeling techniques to characterize physical activity, nutrition and metabolic health within our stable isotope mass spectrometry core facility. New scientific questions require development of novel methods to maintain innovation. We essentially focus on techniques that allow free-living measurements with minimal impact on the subjects.

  Our team

Our team is characterized by its interdisciplinarity as we are putting together expertise in physiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, ecology of health, bio-anthropology, cultural anthropology, chemistry and physics.

The team is composed of the following members :

  • Audrey BERGOUIGNAN, PhD : CNRS Research scientist (Team leader)
  • Stéphane BLANC, PhD : CNRS Director of research
  • Claire LAURENS, PhD : CNES Post-doctorate fellow
  • Emmanuel COHEN, PhD : CNRS Post-doctorate fellow
  • Alexandre ZAHARIEV : CNRS Engineer
  • Isabelle CHERY : CNRS Engineer Assistant

  Our collaborations

Local

  • Fabrice BERTILE, PhD : Research Scientist, CNRS IPHC DSA

National

  • Chantal SIMON : PU-PH, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine Rhône Alpes, Lyon
  • Etienne LEFAI : Research Scientist, INRA
  • Enguerran MACIA : Research Scientist, CNRS, EES UMI 3189
  • Priscilla Duboz : Research Engineer, CNRS, EES UMI 3189
  • Angèle Chopard : Professeure d’Université, Université de Montpellier
  • MEDES : Institut de Médecine et de Physiologie Spatiales (http://www.medes.fr/fr/index.html)
  • CADMOS : Centre d’Aide au Développement des Activités en Micropesanteur et des Opérations Spatiales (https://cadmos.cnes.fr/fr/)

International

  • Donal O’GORMAN : Professor, Dublin City University
  • Carine PLATAT : Associate Professor, United Arab Emirates University (UAEU)
  • David DUNSTAN : Professor, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute
  • Neville Owen : Professor, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute

Joint International Lab : LIA ACTIMOVE 2017-2022 between our team and the University of Colorado, Division of Endocrinology Anschutz Health & Wellness Center :

 
  • Daniel H. Bessesen, MD, PhD : Professor of Medicine
  • Paul MacLean, PhD : Professor of Medicine
  • Ed Melanson, PhD : Professor of Medicine
  • Nathan DeJong : PhD Candidate
     

Joint International Lab : LIA ACTIMOVE 2017-2022 between our team and the University of Colorado, Division of Endocrinology Anschutz Health & Wellness Center

The Joint International Associated Laboratory (LIA) ’ACTIMOVE’ aims to associate the CNRS DEPE / IPHC and the ’Anschutz health & Wellness Center (AHWC) / Division of Endocrinology - University of Colorado’, two research institutions recognized for their research excellence in ecology and eco-physiology, and medicine, to develop a research program to understand the overall transition of physical activity and its impact on health, and develop strategies of prevention of sedentary behaviors and the associated chronic diseases. The research program is based on a unique interdisciplinary approach using a health ecology perspective that put together doctors, physiologists and ecologists. This is a novel and innovative management project of a conflict between environment and health that will be organized in three axes of research going from observation to experimentation, and implementation of new strategies of prevention of sedentary behaviors in free-living conditions to test their feasibility with a unique socio-ecological approach. The 3 axes of research are as follows :

  • To study the impact of the epidemiological transition in pre-industrial populations on physical activity, diet, lifestyle/culture and subsequently on body mass and metabolic health,
  • To test new strategies to prevent the sedentary behaviors related adverse health effects,
  • To implement these new strategies in the real-world and at work using a socio-ecological approach, and test their efficacy.
    The research is conducted in Senegal (under the tutelage of France), France and the State of Colorado in the United States.

  Our funding sources

  • French Space Agency (Centre National des Etudes Spatiales, CNES)
  • French National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS)
  • Danone/Fondation de la Recherche Médicale
  • National Institute for Health