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PNCA (Nutritional Physiology and Eating Behaviour)

UMR 914 AgroParisTech, INRAE

General scientific background

The research of the PNCA unit aims to evaluate how variations in protein intake, in terms of quality and quantity, affect physiology, metabolism and dietary behavior in different physiological and pathophysiological situations, and the repercussions of these effects for health. Protein intake is one of the determinants of body homeostasis, and the role of protein intake, in interaction with other energy-rich nutrients, in the processes of homeostasis and its disruption is a key public health question. The establishment of reference criteria for the quality of protein intake, and for needs in particular physiological conditions, is a topical question in the context of reflections on the balance between products of animal and plant origin, and the search for new sources of protein. The projects conducted in the unit question through an holistic way the impact of protein transition on human health.

Approaches are : integrated physiology, cell and molecular biology, digestive and metabolic fluxes, physiology of the digestive tract and the microbiota, psychobiology, neurophysiology, consumption analyses, modeling, -omics approaches, biomarkers, chemometrics.

Models are : cellular models, rodents, humans

Fields of research

To assess the impact of protein transition on human health, the Unit is organized in four teams :
- Protein Intake and Intestinal Adaptations (François Blachier) ;
- Protein Intake and Metabolic Regulation (Dalila Azzout-Marniche) ;
- Protein Intake, Nutritional Security and Cardiometabolic Risk (François Mariotti) ;
- Protein Intake and Neurosciences of Ingestive Behavior (Isabelle Denis).

The work of the PNCA unit is built around three research axes :
Protein intake and nutritional needs
♦ Evaluation of the impact of the characteristics of protein intake (amount of protein, amino-acid composition, presence of bioactive peptide fractions and bioavailability profiles of these compounds) on the assimilation and nutritional efficacy of proteins in different nutritional and physiological situations (adequate, limiting or excessive intake of proteins and energy, inflammatory processes, catabolic states, scarring of the intestinal mucosae) ;
♦ Studies of the impact of dietary changes on the composition of the microbiota and the adaptive capacity of the intestinal epithelium ;
♦ Analysis of protein metabolism, exchanges between organs and pathways of metabolic interconversion in relation to carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and the control of energy reserves ;
♦ Assessment of the impact of protein transitions on protein status and nutritional security of people and populations.

Protein intake and the prevention of pathological conditions
♦ Evaluation of whether protein intake can be manipulated to prevent or aggravate the digestive and metabolic dysfunctions induced by high-risk nutritional or physiological conditions ;
♦ Study of the influence of the nature of proteins (plant or animal origin) and of dietary amino acids on low-level inflammation, endothelial dysfunction and, more generally, the determinants of cardiovascular and diabetic risk ;
♦ Identification of the determinants of interindividual variability in response to diets unbalanced in terms of their macronutrient contents, and susceptibility to pathological conditions due to such imbalances.

Protein intake, control of dietary intake and consumption
♦ Studies of the control of protein ingestion and the role of homeostasis mechanisms and reward systems ;
♦ Analysis of the nature of the information involved in the central detection of energy and proteins ;
♦ Analysis of the physiological and psychological determinants of choice and decision processes relating to food intake ;
♦ Studies based on observed and simulated consumption data for the relationships between protein consumption (plant/animal proteins) and diet characteristics (nutritional adequacy and risk profile).

For more information
Check out the open access publications of PNCA on HAL-AgroParisTech :

Contact details
+ 33 (0)1 44 08 18 29

16 rue Claude Bernard
F-75231 Paris Cedex 05
Tel: 33 (0) 1 44 08 18 43
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