Dr. Spriet's basic research examines how skeletal muscle generates the large amounts of energy needed to exercise and compete in work and sport situations. The pathways that metabolize carbohydrate and lipid as fuel to produce energy are studied in human skeletal muscle. His practical research examines whether compounds that are purported to be "ergogenic" or work enhancing agents actually augment muscle metabolism and/or improve human performance (e.g. blood doping, creatine, carnitine, pyruvate, taurine, caffeine and omega-3 fatty acids). He also conducts hydration/sweat testing and research aimed at counteracting the effects of dehydration in athletes engaging in stop-and-go sports like ice hockey, basketball, and soccer.Learn More
Research Area: Nutrition
I am interested in understanding the physiological roles and regulation of adipose tissue and skeletal muscle-derived cytokines in mediating metabolic processes in the body. I am particularly interested in the mechanisms by which dietary factors and/or exercise modulate various cytokines and inflammatory mediators implicated in insulin resistance, a key characteristic of obesity and type 2 diabetes. My current research projects are:
1) Regulation of adipose tissue-derived cytokines in integrative metabolism.
2) Effect of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in the presence and absence of LPS on adipocyte secretory factors and underlying mechanisms.
3) Effect of dietary fatty acids on pro-inflammatory markers in an in vitro murine adipocyte macrophage co-culture model.
My background is in molecular and cell biology of lipid metabolism. Currently, my students and I work on the regulation of membrane phospholipids, fatty acids, and methyl-group donors. More specifically, we look at regulation of genes involved in choline transport and phospholipid metabolism; nutrient transporters and kinetics of membrane transport; molecular and cell biology of lipids; the effect of nutrients on protein synthesis and gene expression; and, nutritional genomics (nutrigenomics) of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.Learn More
The primary goals of our research program include: 1) to determine the fundamental role of methyl nutrients in health outcomes; 2) to determine molecular mechanisms underlying the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases; and, 3) to contribute to evidence-based strategies that will improve the health of the population.Learn More
My students and I aim to understand the mechanistic role(s) of microbial-host intestinal communication. In particular, we focus on how microbial-derived metabolites (from dietary precursors) can influence the integrity of the colonic epithelial barrier (EB), as well as its capacity for defense and repair. The importance of this research lies on not only advancing basic knowledge on the effect of microbial metabolites on gastrointestinal functions, but also on informing the agri-food sector the ways in which the intake of nutrients, biomolecules, and dietary precursors can shape human health.Learn More
My research explores biodiversity from different perspectives and scales. We have develop molecular diagnostic tools for plant identification, including herbal product authentication and certification. Also, we contribute to the Plant Barcode of Life, investigating intra and interspecific variation in plants, and incorporate both Indigenous knowledge and DNA-based approaches to understanding diversity. In addition, I have extensively researched the effects of ecosystem management on community structure. Lastly, I am engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning and have recently looked at 1) learning objects as mechanisms of engagement, 2) active learning within large first year biology classes, and 3) ancient pedagogies.Learn More
My research is focused on the biological effects of functional foods on chronic disease-related endpoints evaluated in human intervention studies. I have a focus on the agri-food-health continuum with a particular interest in studying the health effects of agri-foods such as soybeans, lentils and beans. I am interested in studies in all life-stages, however am actively involved with the Guelph Family Health Study (focus on families with young children) and with Agri-Food for Healthy Aging (focus on older adults). I am also interested in examining how different sub-groups perceive and consume functional foods as examined through comprehensive questionnaires.Learn More
Currently, there are several major areas of research focus including the study of basic fatty acid metabolism, understanding the association between plasma fatty acids and health outcomes, omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of breast cancer, and examining determinants of health in the Guelph Family Health Study. In addition, related projects include the study of fats in brain health (concussion, Alzheimer's Disease), fatty liver disease, fatty acid metabolism, bone development and nutrigenomics.Learn More
Dysfunctional lipid metabolism is a key feature of cardiometabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. My research program has three primary areas of interest:
First, we are using cell and mouse models to determine how omega-3 fats regulate lipid metabolism. We are investigating how omega-3 fats control adipogenesis, as well as lipogenic, lipolytic, and triglyceride synthesis pathways in adipose tissue and liver.
Second, we are studying how different nutrients regulate omega-3 synthesis in the body using both mouse models and human clinical trials.
Third, we are interested to personalize nutrition to improve human cardiometabolic health. We continue to be active in this area through various national and international collaborations.
The role of physical properties in determining the metabolic and health effects of foods is often overlooked. We aim to better understand the relationships between food properties and metabolic response, particularly for dietary lipids. After chemical and structural analyses, real and model food systems are exposed to simulated gastrointestinal conditions using static and dynamic models. This generates insight into how food properties interact with the biochemical and biophysical aspects of digestion to determine nutrient release and absorption. We couple these experimental approaches with human clinical trials to relate material properties and their digestive behavior with metabolic endpoints (e.g. absorption, satiety, inflammation, lipemia, gastrointestinal symptoms).Learn More