Fibrobesity: What?

FIBROBESITY – Preventing Fibrosis Related to Obesity - is one of the three multidisciplinary research programmes supported by the Academy of Finland PROFI6 funding during 2021-2026. FIBROBESITY links strongly with the strategy of the University of Oulu under a wider umbrella of FibroHealth – Combatting Fibrosis in Chronic Diseases. While FibroHealth at large addresses fibrosis, which is a risk factor in the etiology of complex chronic diseases and unhealthy ageing, FIBROBESITY focuses on medical and societal challenges of obesity-related fibrotic pathologies. The research community extends to several faculties and research areas from medicine, biochemistry and molecular medicine to human, education and ICT sciences.
Fibrobesity infograph. Subthemes FIBRO1, 2 and 3 text in the middle, surrounded by hexagons illustrating the connection of weight control, brain and mind, molelules, problem-solving, healthy food and exercise with obesity.

Fibrobesity research in a nutshell

The world-class research at the University of Oulu on hypoxia and extracellular matrix (ECM) together with cutting-edge research on obesity, cardiovascular risk factors, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome and other fibrosis-related diseases, combined with our unique population and patient cohort studies and state-of-the art research infrastructure, form the basis of FIBROBESITY.

The pressing issues addressed by Fibrobesity relate to its three sub-themes.

  1. Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Significance of Fibrosis (FIBRO1) strives to identify currently poorly known molecular pathways causative for obesity and fibrosis;
  2. Disease Modelling for Future Therapies (FIBRO2) facilitates translational studies through development of novel in vitro and in vivo disease models; and
  3. Societal and Behavioral Perspectives (FIBRO3) combines approaches at a broader range of disciplines to reveal lifelong behavioral determinants of obesity.

Fibrobesity specifically addresses the following questions:

  1. What are the genetic and other risk factors leading to obesity and fibrosis-related co-morbidities in individuals and in populations? How can we identify individuals with the increased risk?

  2. What are the mechanisms and associations of early-life exposures, lifelong risk for obesity and co-morbidities including fibrosis in selected complex chronic diseases? What are the factors predicting the extent of weight-loss in the intervention and cohort studies?

  3. What are the molecular mechanisms connecting obesity and fibrosis, including the roles of hypoxia, ECM remodelling and inflammation?

  4. Can we treat obesity and fibrosis-related co-morbidities by controlling those identified molecular mechanisms, such as activation of the hypoxia response, in vitro and in vivo?

  5. What kind of historical, socio-cultural and behavioural factors underlie obesity and related health issues? How can these insights be integrated to behavioural guidance?