My research focusses on the role of lipids, and in particular, triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins such as very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), in substrate provision and metabolic signalling, in oxidative tissues such as the heart. This work further investigates novel putative mechanisms of VLDL as a metabolic signal in health and disease.
I joined DPAG in 2009 as a Reader and group leader in Metabolism. Previously, I undertook my D.Phil in the Metabolic Research Laboratory, Radcliffe Infirmary, supervised by Dr Derek (Dermot) Williamson, and was subsequently a Lecturer in the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics. My early research work concentrated on metabolic interplay between tissues during cancer cachexia; subsequently I examined lipid substrate selection and preference by key peripheral tissues such as heart and immune cells.
The key to my work has been our development of a technique of liver perfusion in order to generate species-specific VLDL. This technique has the great advantage that structurally variant species of VLDL characteristic of underlying disease (e.g. diabetic-variant VLDL) can be generated and tested. We have demonstrated the capacity of the heart to utilise triacylglycerol from different lipoprotein sources and defined myocardial substrate preference, but also demonstrated how this selection depends on structural variation in the TG-rich lipoprotein presented, resulting in substrate “switching” in disease states (diabetes, sepsis). Besides having obvious clinical relevance, this work also demonstrated the ability of VLDL to signal target tissues, influencing metabolic status, a phenomenon we are now investigating further. Relating changes in structural motifs in VLDL to specific substrate signalling function is a fundamental aim of these studies. We are also examining how tissue-specific factors (e.g. heart failure, ventricular unloading) influence triacylglycerol substrate utilisation.
My research is funded by the British Heart Foundation and Wellcome Trust. I teach metabolism to biomedical science, medicine and biochemistry undergraduates. I am a cardiothoracic intensive care physician at the John Radcliffe hospital. I am a Fellow at Keble College and a College Lecturer at University College.
Metabolism of very-low-density lipoprotein and chylomicrons by streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat heart: effects of diabetes and lipoprotein preference.
Niu Y-G. and Evans RD., (2008), Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 295, E1106 - E1116
Myocardial metabolism of triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins in type 2 diabetes.
Niu Y-G. and Evans RD., (2009), J Physiol, 587, 3301 - 3315
Changes to both cardiac metabolism and performance accompany acute reductions in functional capillary supply.
Hauton D. et al, (2015), Biochim Biophys Acta, 1850, 681 - 690
Pharmacological inhibition of sarcolemmal fatty acid uptake provides a novel mechanism to improve metabolism in the Type 2 diabetic heart
Mansor LM. et al, (2015), DIABETIC MEDICINE, 32, 44 - 44
Varying degrees of ventricular unloading in the heterotopic rat heart transplant model demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging.
Carr CA. et al, (2014), Int J Biomed Sci, 10, 223 - 228
Antioxidant treatment improves neonatal survival and prevents impaired cardiac function at adulthood following neonatal glucocorticoid therapy.
Niu Y. et al, (2013), J Physiol, 591, 5083 - 5093
Differential translocation of the fatty acid transporter, FAT/CD36, and the glucose transporter, GLUT4, coordinates changes in cardiac substrate metabolism during ischemia and reperfusion.
Heather LC. et al, (2013), Circ Heart Fail, 6, 1058 - 1066