huji Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition

Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Madar Zecharia

Prof. Madar Zecharia

Areas of Research Interests

  1. Molecular analysis of the biological clock in mammals
  2. The relationship between the biological clock and nutrition
  3. Control of the biological clock over the innate immunity
  4. Regulation of mammalian defensin expression.
  5. Structure/function of mammalian defensins
  6. Defensin and Toll–like receptor expression in diabetes
  7. Molecular evolution of defensins

Project description:

For the past fifteen years, our laboratory has carried out metabolic studies in the field of nutritional biochemistry. Using animal models of diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer, we have investigated the therapeutic properties of numerous compounds for use as nutraceuticals. In addition, our work has focused on the mechanisms by which these compounds induce physiological and morphological changes in the body.

Our most recent research has beenin the following areas: Evaluating dietary models of oxidative stress in animal models and the effect of quercetin on rats fed high fat or high fructose diet. Investigating the influence of dietary interventions on carbohydrate metabolism and glycogen synthase.
Determining the effects of diets on nitric oxide synthase activity and expression in hepatocytes and cultured endothelial cells in the presence of glucose and antioxidants. The effects of dietary fat and antioxidants on mammary cancer in adult female rats and their offspring.
The role of lipoic acid as an inhibitory treatment in the developmentof dietary induced cataracts in sand rats and galactosemic rats.

Animal models used in our laboratory:

Sand rats as a model for NIDDM
Sand rats (Psammomys obesus) have been used as a model for mild diabetes. In its natural environment, the sand rat feeds exclusively on succulent plants with low energy value and high salt content, and demonstrates normal blood–glucose levels. However, long–term feeding of a "high–energy" diet results in obesity and a diabetes syndrome (type 2) which includes insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, markedly decreased glucose tolerance and hyperglycemia .
A specially defined diabetic (type 2) line that was developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel is available.

Sprague Dawley rats fed a high galactose diet
Healthy rats fed a diet rich in galactose develop spontaneous cataracts within weeks.
This model has been used in our laboratory to investigate the inhibitory and therapeutic properties of natural compounds and diabetic drugs in prevention of late onset complications of diabetes.

DMBA (dimethyl–1,2–benzanthracene) induced rat mammary tumorigenesis
This model of chemically induced breast cancer in rats has been used in our laboratory in experiments to elucidate the role of dietary fats in inhibition or promotion of cancer development.

DMH (1,2 dimethylhydrazine) induced rat colon cancer
The role of dietary factors in colon cancer development has been investigated using this animal model.
How diet can effect apoptosis, p53 protein expression and many other factors involved in carcinogenesis.

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