Mariëtte Boon, PhD

Mariëtte Boon (1988) has studied Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and received her PhD degree at the dept. Internal Medicine cum laude. During her PhD training, she has set up an interdisciplinary research line on brown adipose tissue biology and its therapeutic potential. She has received several research grants, including grants from the LUMC Board of Directors, Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation, NWO-Rubicon and RICS. Furthermore, she has won several awards for her research, including the prestigious Heineken Young Scientist Award for Medicine 2016. She has published nearly 40 papers, including Nat Med, Nat Commun, Diabetes and Sci Transl Med. She is one of the founders and current chair of the ‘Young Dutch Society for Endocrinology’. Currently, she is combining research with clinical training.

Her research mainly focuses on the potential of energy-combusting brown adipose tissue (BAT) to combat obesity and associated disorders by increased energy expenditure (EE). Obesity is a main risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but current therapeutic strategies to combat obesity are ineffective in the long term. BAT has recently been recognized to contribute to EE by dissipation of energy stored in glucose and triglycerides as heat. She recently discovered several pharmacological strategies in preclinical models to enhance BAT activity and EE resulting in a reduction of obesity and improved glucose metabolism. An ethnic group that is particularly prone to develop obesity and T2D is the South Asian population, currently comprising approximately 20% of the total world population. They develop T2D at a younger age as well as at a lower BMI. An important contributor is their highly common disadvantageous metabolic phenotype, consisting of central obesity, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, which is likely caused by a disturbed energy metabolism. Indeed, she has previously shown that healthy lean South Asian men have lower EE as well as less energy combusting BAT as compared to matched white Caucasians. Overall, the goals of her present studies are 1) To study the role of mitochondrial dynamics in BAT function in preclinical models; 2) To identify novel pharmacological strategies to activate BAT in humans; 3) To study whether pharmacological activation and/or recruitment of BAT in overweight pre-diabetic individuals improves whole-body metabolism and reduces metabolic disturbances including dyslipidemia; 4) To assess novel noninvasive tools to assess BAT activity and/or volume in humans; 5) To assess the metabolic consequences of activating BAT in subjects from South Asian descent.

Selected publications
1. Boon MR & Berbée JFP & Khedoe PPSJ & Bartelt A et al: Brown fat activation reduces hypercholesterolaemia and protects from atherosclerosis development. Nat Commun 2015; 6:6356.
2. Van Dam AD et al: Salsalate activates brown adipose tissue in mice. Diabetes 2015;64: 1544-54.
3. Boon MR et al: Tracing human brown fat. Nat Med 2015; 21: 667-668
4. Geerling JJ & Boon MR et al: Metformin lowers plasma triglycerides by promoting VLDL-triglyceride clearance by brown adipose tissue in mice. Diabetes 2014; 63: 1-12.
5. Bakker LEH & Boon MR et al: Brown adipose tissue volume in healthy lean south Asian adults compared with white Caucasians: a prospective, case-controlled observational study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2014; 2: 210-217.
6. Boon MR et al: Cannabinoid 1 receptor blockade diminishes obesity and dyslipidemia via peripheral activation of brown adipose tissue. FASEB J 2014; 28: 5361-5375.

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