Milena Schönke, PhD

Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases which are considered the leading cause of death worldwide. The transport of lipids in the blood via lipoproteins is crucial for the regulation of whole-body lipid metabolism. Hence, targeting elevated plasma low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and triglycerides that are directly linked to the development of atherosclerosis is the primary treatment goal. Apart from pharmaceutical interventions, exercise is known to modulate plasma triglycerides and improve cardiometabolic health, yet the molecular connection between exercise, the transport of lipids in the blood and atherosclerosis development is not fully understood.

The regulation of metabolic processes is adjusted to the change of day and night by central and peripheral clocks. It is, however, not known whether the effect of exercise on the regulation of metabolism and atherosclerosis development varies depending on the time of exercise. In addition, it remains unclear which impact the intensity and type of exercise have in this context.

My research focuses on the role of lipoprotein metabolism in the effect of exercise, and its timing in relation to the circadian rhythm, on the development of cardiovascular diseases. My aim is hereby to further unravel the crosstalk between metabolically relevant tissues like skeletal muscle, different types of adipose tissue and the liver modulating whole-body metabolic homeostasis. For this project we are mainly working with mouse models for atherosclerosis and different training protocols.