Déterminants moléculaires et environnementaux de l'adiposité viscérale et du risque cardio-métabolique : un pas vers la médecine personnalisée


Sébastien Thériault

Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec


Domaine : santé  circulatoire et respiratoire

Programme Chercheurs-boursiers cliniciens - Junior 1

Concours 2018-2019

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks are a leading cause of death worldwide. These diseases are influenced by genetic factors. The main objective of this research program is to determine how genetic and environmental factors (such as life habits) as well as their interactions contribute to body fat distribution and cardiovascular risk.

The first project is based on a cohort of over 2,000 participants who completed a 3-month lifestyle intervention. They entered a friendly competition among employees to improve their diet and physical activity level and stop smoking. They showed an important improvement in cardiovascular risk factors but with a high variability in the response between participants. The project consists in obtaining genetic data (the DNA sequence at millions of locations with frequent variations) in order to determine the genetic variants explaining the variability in the response to the intervention.

The second project aims to identify novel biomarkers of body fat distribution, more specifically of the accumulation of fat around the organs, or visceral fat, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. We will measure biomarkers that have been selected from a preliminary study looking at over 1300 molecules in over 600 individuals with imaging data on body fat distribution. In the third project, DNA of individuals with an extreme distribution of body fat (very low or very large amount of visceral fat) will be sequenced to identify rare mutations responsible. Then, DNA sequence for frequent variations will be obtained in a large cohort of obese individuals who had bariatric surgery to study determinants of fat tissue characteristics.

This research program will allow to better understand the genetic and biological mechanisms explaining body fat distribution and cardiovascular risk. Clinical application of this knowledge could lead to interventions targeted to individuals based on their genetic material.