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The University of Southampton

Discovering the causes and consequences of dyslipidaemia

Research at the University of Southampton has led to key discoveries in the causes, development and consequences of dyslipidaemia and the metabolic syndrome. Through the introduction of new guidelines our studies have changed the commissioning of NHS services and influenced public health education, scientists and healthcare professionals. Our new clinical trials to test novel treatments have led to improved health for patients.

Research Challenge

Ectopic fat accumulation in visceral organs is linked to hypertension, dyslipidaemia and hyperglycaemia. This cluster of related risk factors termed ‘metabolic syndrome’ markedly increases the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cardiovascular disease.


 At the time of our research metabolic syndrome in adult life was known to be associated with low birth weight but it was uncertain whether the maternal diet had any influence on the developing offspring’s liver.

Our Solution

 Our research group first established a model explaining the pathogenetic mechanisms behind the development of NAFLD and demonstrated that fat in maternal pregnancy diet can cause fatty liver disease in the offspring’s adult life. These studies also exposed novel mechanisms of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis as an important progressive form of NAFLD.

By forming industry collaborations we undertook trials exploring new treatments for NAFLD and tested techniques and equipment for people with metabolic syndrome.

What was the impact?

Southampton’s work has led to the establishment of clinical guidelines which contribute positively to UK patients and guide human research in the field.
The cost-effectiveness research undertaken by our team has been the key driver in producing a commissioned NHS service, a first for patients in England.

Our research has been widely reported in the media and our contribution in the field of NAFLD, metabolic syndrome and diabetes was awarded the Dorothy Hodgkin lecture by Diabetes UK.

Maternal diet in pregnancy can affect the offspring's health in adult life
Impact of maternal diet

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