Xia Gao Lab

Xia Gao Lab Research Projects


Amino acid metabolism in non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD)

With the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD) are one major health challenge globally. Epidemiological studies have shown correlations of aberrant amino acid profile with different stages of NAFLD. Yet, the role of amino acid metabolism in the onset and progression of fatty liver diseases remains largely unknown. Here we are to systematically define the metabolic dynamics of amino acid metabolism in a mouse model of NAFLD.   

Dietary intervention in cancer therapy

Nutritional input has a direct impact on metabolism and metabolic health in humans, yet to what extent and how nutritional components influence the onset, development, and progression of diseases remains largely unknown. Methionine, an essential amino acid, plays many faceted functions in biosynthesis, redox balance, epigenetics and more. Many cancer cells are more methionine dependent compared to the healthy counterparts. Dietary methionine restriction is emerging as one promising therapy in cancer. We have previously showed that dietary methionine restriction synergizes with chemotherapy 5-FU in mouse colorectal PDX models, and radiation in a genetic mouse sarcoma model (Nature, 2019). Currently, we are interested in the interactions of nutrition, metabolism, and the development and treatment of metabolic diseases, obesity, and cancer. The goal is to identify nutritional interventions and metabolic pathways for prevention and treatment of metabolic diseases. We employ untargeted and targeted metabolomic analysis and isotope tracing studies to study metabolism using newly vested, in-house Thermo Orbitrap Exploris 480 LC/MS instrument. Along with this powerful analytical tool, we use various in vivo mouse models and in vitro models to define the role of nutritional input and the underlying mechanisms in disease development and treatment. One focus is on the potential application of methionine restriction with other chemotherapies and frontline therapies.  

Amino acid metabolism in adipocyte biology

Obesity and its associated metabolic diseases such as diabetes remain the pressing health issue globally. While branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) are known biomarkers for insulin resistance, and precursors for lipogenesis, less is known on the contribution of other amino acids. Here, we are to systematically define the metabolic dynamics of amino acid metabolism in adipocytes.