Research in the Foti’s laboratory aims at understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of metabolic liver disorders associated with obesity (MASLD: Metabolic dysfunction-Associated Steatotic Liver Disease) and insulin resistance (IR), as well as their progression towards liver carcinogenesis (e.g. hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC).
We are interested in particular in the non-genomic alterations (not gene mutations) occurring in liver cells and driving the development of MASLD and its progression towards HCC. The mechanisms by which the liver crosstalks with other peripheral organs (e.g. muscles, adipose tissues, pancreas, gut and kidneys) to regulate homeostasis in physiopathological conditions are also under investigation.
More precisely, different projects focus especially on the role of different dietary fatty acids, PI3K/PTEN signalling, and S100 proteins and ERMP1 functions in hepatic metabolic disorders and cancer. microRNAs-dependent and RNA-binding proteins-dependent mechanisms regulating the mRNA expression of key drivers of MASLD/HCC are also investigated.
In addition to common lab techniques and bio-imaging (MRI, CT-scan, optical and ultrastructural microscopy), in vivo/in vitro state-of-the-art methodologies are applied to investigate hepatic/whole body metabolic disorders and liver cancer development. As well various bio-informatic tools are used to analyze in house “omics” data and publicly available data sets. Our studies are conducted using a variety of experimental models including in vivo mouse models (mice under specific diets or transgenic mice), in vitro human stem cells-derived multi-cellular liver organoids, several 2D cell models (liver, muscle, adipose tissue, kidney, ...) and human samples.