INSERM - Institut national de la sante et de la recherche medicale, France

(The French Institute of Health and Medical Research)

Created in 1964, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERMis a public scientific and technological organisation. Overseen jointly by the French Ministries of Research and Health, INSERM's vocation is to promote health for all.

Unit 476-Inserm has three teams that are involved on complementary aspects of human nutrition and lipids, in particular the bioavailability, metabolism and regulation of fatty acids, cholesterol and phytosterols, and fat-soluble vitamins, polyphenols, and carotenoids. On-going human studies will contribute to the critical mass of knowledge within NuGO in variety research areas. For example:

  • Intervention study on about 200 human volunteers at risk of coronary heart disease
  • Set-up of a local arm of a nation-wide intervention study on n-3 fatty acids and folic acid, and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease
  • n-3 fatty acid bioavailability and status
  • Effect of Mediterranean diet
  • Studies on postprandial lipid metabolism
  • Use of stable isotope-enriched lipid molecules and GC-MS analysis
  • Dietary carbohydrate and lipid interactions
  • Insulin status and metabolic syndrome

Genetic analyses undertaken within the unit include:

  • Gene polymorphisms (about 20 in routine by RFLP)
  • Automated DNA sequencing
  • Search for unknown mutations and polymorphisms
  • High throughput screening of SNiP in candidate genes


The experience at Unit 476-Inserm in mechanistic studies is in the area of molecular aspects of fat digestion, inhibition and regulation of lipid and cholesterol assimilation, lipid and cholesterol intestinal uptake, trafficking and secretion in and from enterocytes (Caco2), differentiation and metabolism of adipocytes, and regulation by nutrients and hormones.
Specific functional genomics expertise includes Taqman, mutagenesis and transfection strategies, access to local transcriptomics and proteomics facilities, and use of transgenic animal models. The laboratory works closely with local hospital departments and industry including agro-food, nutrition and pharmaceuticals.

Governing Council Member: Professor Christian Bréchot, Director of the INSERM
Partner Coordinator: Professor Denis Lairon, Head-Manager of the Unit 476