Liver Metabolism and NAFLD

Background to the research: 

A quarter of the population in developed countries have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition can develop into impaired liver function as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). and eventually to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver failure or cancer. The initial driver of this disease pathway is an increased storage of fat in the liver which is linked to the high energy diets consumed in the 21st Century, and is associated with metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

My group is working in 4 main areas:

1. Pre-clinical NAFLD/NASH models development and benchmarking aganst human diseases

2. Lipid and lipoprotein metabolism in NASH development and progression

3. Systems biology and nutrigenomics studies in health and disease

4. NASH-HCC biology and metabolism


Contact Professor Michele Vacca:

Team: Dr Gabriele Mocciaro, BSc, MSc, PhD


Key collaborators:

NASH/HCC Pathophysiology, Liver Fibrosis. [Human Cohorts]Mike Allison (NASH - Cambridge, UK); Quentin Anstee (Newcastle, UK); EPoS & Litmus Collaborators (European NAFLD Registry); [Murine studies] Fiona Oakley & Derek Mann (Fibrosis - Newcastle, UK), Detlef Shuppan (Fibrosis - Mainz, Germany), Christian Trautwein (Inflammation - RWTH Aachen, Germany);[Advanced Culturing Systems] Luca Urbani & Shilpa Chokshi (RW-IoH, UK); Tomasz Kostrzewski (CN Bio Innovations, Cambridge, UK); Massimo Pinzani & Krista Rombouts (London UCL, UK); [Stem Cells, HCC Organoids, WNT signalling] Meritxell Huch (MPI-CBG, Germany); [TGFβ/BMP signalling] Wei Li (Cambridge, UK); Lopa Mishra (NYC, USA); [Nuclear Receptors & Coactivators; Human obesity/MetS cohorts] Antonio Moschetta (Bari, Italy).

NASH/HCC Large Omics & Data Analysis. [Metabolomics] Jules Griffin (Aberdeen, UK), Zoe Hall (London, UK), Albert Koulman (Cambridge, UK); [Proteomics] Richard Kay (Cambridge, UK); [Bioinformatics] Evangelia Petsalaki (EMBL-EBI, UK), Davide Chiarugi (Cambridge, UK).

Obesity, Systemic Metabolism, metabolic phenotyping. [Murine studies] Antonio Vidal-Puig, Sam Virtue (Cambridge, UK); [Human Cohorts] Mattia Frontini (Functional Genomics - Exeter, UK); Mario Siervo (Nitrates, intermediate metabolism, stable isotopes - Nottingham, UK); [Nutrition & Polyphenols] Daniele Del Rio (Parma, Italy) and Sumantra (Shumone) Ray (Cambridge, UK).

Key publicatons:

  1. Mocciaro G, D'Amore S, Jenkins B, Kay R, Murgia A, Herrera-Marcos LV, Neun S, Sowton AP, Hall Z, Palma-Duran SA, Palasciano G, Reimann F, Murray A, Suppressa P, Sabbà C, Moschetta A, Koulman A, Griffin JL*, Vacca M*. Lipidomic Approaches to Study HDL Metabolism in Patients with Central Obesity Diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome Int J Mol Sci 2022 Jun 17;23(12):6786. doi: 10.3390/ijms23126786. (IF2021: 6.204) - PMID: 35743227  *Corresponding Authors
  2. Hall Z, Chiarugi D, Charidemou E, Leslie J, Scott E, Pellegrinet L, Allison M, Mocciaro G, Anstee QM, Evan GI, Hoare M, Vidal-Puig A, Oakley F, Vacca M*, Griffin JL*. Lipid remodelling in hepatocyte proliferation and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2021 Mar;73(3):1028-1044. doi: 10.1002/hep.31391 (IF2020: 17.425) - PMID: 32460431 *Last and Corresponding Authors
  3. Vacca M*, Leslie J, Virtue S, Lam BYH, Govaere O, Tiniakos D, Snow S, Davies S, Petkevicius K, Tong Z, Peirce V, Juul Nielsen M, Ament Z, Li W, Kostrzewski T, Leeming DJ, Ratziu V, Allison MED, Anstee QM, Griffin JL, Oakley F, Vidal-Puig A*. Bone morphogenetic protein 8B promotes the progression of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Nature Metabolism 2020 Jun;2(6):514-531. doi: 10.1038/s42255-020-0214-9 (IF2020: 13.511)  - PMID: 32694734 . *Corresponding Authors
  4. Azzu V*, Vacca M*, Kamzolas I, Hall Z, Leslie J,  Carobbio S, Virtue S, Davies SE, Lukasik A, Dale M, Bohlooly-Y M, Acharjee A, Lindén D. Bidault G, Petsalaki E, Griffin JL, Oakley F, Allison MED, Vidal-Puig A. Suppression of insulin-induced gene 1 (INSIG1) function promotes hepatic lipid remodelling and restrains NASH progression. Mol Metab 2021 Jun;48:101210. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2021.101210. (IF2020: 7.422) - PMID: 33722690 *Joint first Authors
  5. D’Amore S, Härdfeldt J, Cariello M, Graziano G, Copetti M, Di Tullio G, Piglionica M, Scialpi N, Sabbà C, Palasciano G, Vacca M*, Moschetta A*. Identification of miR-9-5p as direct regulator of ABCA1 and HDL-driven reverse cholesterol transport in circulating CD14+ cells of patients with metabolic syndrome. Cardiovascular Research 2018 Jul 1;114(8):1154-1164. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvy077. (IF2018: 7.014) -  PMID: 29584810 * Last & Corresponding Authors
  6. Vacca M, Di Eusanio M, Cariello M, Graziano G, D'Amore S, Dimitri Petridis F, D'Orazio A, Salvatore L, Tamburro A, Folesani G, Rutigliano D, Pellegrini F, Sabbà C, Palasciano G, Di Bartolomeo R, Moschetta A. Integrative miRNA and Whole-Genome Analyses of Epicardial Adipose Tissue in Patients with Coronary Atherosclerosis. Cardiovasc Res. 2016 Feb 1;109(2):228-39. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvv266. (IF2016: 5.878) - PMID: 26645979 (Editor’s Choice)


  1. Leslie J, Geh D, Elsharkawy AM, Mann DA*, Vacca M*. Metabolic dysfunction and cancer in HCV: Shared pathways and mutual interactions J Hepatol 2022 Feb 12;S0168-8278(22)00076-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2022.01.029. (IF2020:  25.083) - PMID: 35157957 * Corresponding authors
  2. Azzu V, Vacca M, Virtue S, Allison M, Vidal-Puig A. Adipose tissue-liver cross talk in the control of whole-body metabolism: implications in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Gastroenterology 2020 May;158(7):1899-1912. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.12.054. (IF2020: 22.682) - PMID: 32061598
  3. Vacca M*, Allison M, Griffin JL, Vidal-Puig A*. Fatty Acid and Glucose Sensors in Hepatic Lipid Metabolism: Implications in NAFLD. Semin Liver Dis. 2015 Aug;35(3):250-61. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1562945. (IF2015: 5.667) - PMID: 26378


Full List and Metrics (SCOPUS):

This Lab is established in collaboration with the University of Bari Aldo Moro (Italy) in light of an International Research Agreement


Published by: Foundation for Liver Research

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