The work of the Johnson lab focuses on how diet (and in particular, fructose) as well as serum uric acid may have a role in the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease. The lab’s work includes studies in cell culture, animal models, epidemiological studies and clinical trials. Recent studies include studies of fructose induced obesity, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and fatty liver. The lab is also interested in the subcellular, and especially effects on the mitochondria in response to fructose and uric acid. Most recently the lab’s work has focused on how a reduction in ATP generation in response to fructose and uric acid may translate not only into obesity, but also into fatigue and decreased exercise.
Recent experimental studies include the role of ATP depletion from fructose in the proinflammatory response, the mechanisms of urate uptake, regulation of fructokinase, and the mitochondrial effects of uric acid. The Johnson lab is also studying the role of NADPH oxidase in response to fructose and uric acid, mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction, and the development of leptin and insulin resistance. Clinical studies include trials to lower fructose intake or to pharmacologically reduce uric acid as a means for preventing or treating features of the metabolic syndrome.