Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Nutrition and Metabolism - What do we reasearch on?





Currently the research of this group is mainly focused on the study of the interaction of dietary components with the enteroendocrine system, the ability of these compounds to modify the integrity of the intestinal barrier and its immunomodulatory effect, as well as the study of the alterations of the intestinal microbiota caused by certain foods, and finally the analysis of the epigenetic effects of different bioactive compounds in situations of metabolic stress such as obesity or aging. In addition, it also studies the effect of alternative sources of high nutritional quality and more environmentally sustainable proteins, such as insect proteins, on human intestinal samples.


This reseach group focuses on the study of lipid metabolism, the mechanisms involved in atherosclerosis, its clinical manifestations (cardiovascular diseases) and its risk factors in general. Because its membership in CIBERDEM (ISCIII) since 2008, diabetes has an importance. Its mission is to conduct basic research in the field of biomedicine and nutrition witha an international level of excellence to improve the care of patients with atherosclerosis or at risk of developing it.


The research of this group focuses on the study of the effect on health and disease of main risk factors in the community, from a primary prevention point of view, taking into account dietary patterns, physical activity and toxic habits in relation to psychological factors and neurobehavioral development. In addition, it also determines the impact of certain biochemical and genetic factors related to nutritional status, as well as environmental and environmental pollutants.


The Nutrigenomics Research Group focuses its research on the study of the interaction of bioactive food components, mainly polyphenols and combinations of these, with metabolism and its regulation using methodological approaches characteristic of biochemistry, molecular biology and omics technologies. It focuses mainly on metabolic alterations conditioned by overweight and obesity such as insulin resistance, arterial hypertension, inflammation and lipid metabolism alterations.


The expertise of this group consists on the use of the same tools as the pharma industry does to find new drugs in molecular databases (i.e., virtual screening with protein-ligand docking, pharmacophores, electrostatic/shape comparisons) but applying them to databases of natural products (and therefore likely to be incorporated as bioactive ingredients or functional foods).


This research group has acquired considerable experience in epidemiological and clinical studies on the beneficial effects of diet and dietary compounds on biochemical markers of disease (oxidation, inflammation, telomere length and gene expression) and the incidence of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD). In recent years the group has also focused on the study of lifestyle determinants on male fertility and the relationship between nutritional status before and during pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes and newborn health, especially in aspects of genetic regulation and its consequences for health. On the other hand, the group is actively involved in research on the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet on CVD. In the last fifteen years, the research group has conducted the PREDIMED study, and the PREDIMED-PLUS study, two clinical trials of primary prevention of CVD in more than 8000 participants in each of them. PREDIMED-Plus is coordinated by the research group and involves 30 research centers throughout Spain. In the last years they have participated in different European projects related to nutrition, obesity and diabetes such as DEPLAN-CAT, SATIN, EAT2BENICE, STOP and PRIME stand out. They have also been Principal Investigators of 3 NIH metabolomics projects in the USA in relation to diabetes and MCVS, as well as 2 international competitive projects in relation to the benefits of nuts. Beyond the experience in the supervision of patients, preparation and maintenance of databases and advanced statistics, the group has acquired expertise in the field of omics sciences highlighting metabolomics, metagenomics and transcriptomics.