… aims at investigating free fatty acid receptors (FFARs) as link between food and metabolic health. Fatty acids are key components of cell membranes and are abundant in fat, but exist almost exclusively on esterified form in life. Under some conditions, fatty acids on free form are released, for example when food is digested or when fat is burned to provide energy. Free fatty acid receptors are proteins on the cell surface that recognize free fatty acids and transmit signals to the interior of the cells, making the cell respond to the presence of the free fatty acids.
There are several different type of free fatty acids. For example, FFA1 is a free fatty acid receptor that is expressed in the pancreas and that enhances the release of insulin that is triggered by elevated blood sugar levels, leading to a more rapid restoring of a normal blood glucose level. This is an effect that can help type 2 diabetics, suffering from permanently elevated blood sugar levels but still having at least partly functional insulin secreting cells in the pancreas. Another example if FFA4, which has been found to increase the effect of insulin in the body, also an effect that may be very helpful for type 2 diabetics since the disease typically starts with a lower sensitivity of the body to insulin.
Food contains a broad variety of fatty acids and related compounds with a various activities on the FFARs. A key objective of the FFARMED project is to identify nutrients with specially ability to activate the FFARs and to study the effects of these nutrients on metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
The FFARMED project was founded by Prof. Trond Ulven in 2012 and include researchers in Denmark, Germany, England and Scotland. The project is supported by the Danish Council for Strategic Research and Innovation Fund Denmark.