Partner 4 team leaders:
Professor Rudi Westendorp
Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics
The van Heemst-Westendorp laboratory investigates the intricate relationship between the brain and peripheral metabolism that has emerged as a key feature of familial longevity. Over the last decade, we have shown that, compared to controls of similar age, life style and body mass index, subjects from long-lived families exhibit an enhanced resilience against insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and associated cardio-metabolic diseases (including type 2-diabetes, hypertension and myocardial infarction). Main objective is to identify the mechanisms underlying resilience against cardio-metabolic diseases with emphasis on the role of the brain in the regulation of peripheral metabolism. In the team, basic scientists and medics work together to promote healthy ageing, testing hypotheses that come out from advances in basic research, as well as clinical observations.
Dr. van Heemst will be involved in WP1 as work package leader and thus coordinate the collection and selection of human cells from patients with common metabolic diseases, aged-matched healthy controls, and subjects with healthy longevity. Dr. van Heemst and Dr. Westendorp will direct the phenotypic analysis of the human subjects from which the iPSCs and mouse models are derived in WP4. Phenotyping will include measures derived from indirect calorimetry, as well as continuous measurements of glucose levels and ECGs.
Over the last decade, the van Heemst-Westendorp laboratory has created an infrastructure suitable for the enrolment of participants and the collection of large sets of clinical and functional data from several large population based studies as well as large randomized clinical studies. All infrastructure for in depth phenotyping is available. We have full access to the unique cohort of Leiden Longevity, including the biobank of primary fibroblasts that has been established in our laboratory over the last years. Dr. van Heemst is co-PI in the EU funded project SWITCHBOX and workpackage leader (WP Skin/cell ageing and health) in the Netherlands Consortium of Healthy ageing. Dr. Westendorp is currently co-PI in the EU funded projects Switchbox and TRUST as well as founding director of the Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing. Dr. Westendorp is also director of the Vitality program of Medical Delta (a co-operation of Dutch medical universities comprised of the LUMC, Leiden University, TU Delft, Erasmus University and Erasmus MC).
1. Wijsman C, et al. (2012) Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy shows a lower intramyocellular lipid accumulation in middle-ages subjects predisposed to familial longevity. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. Feb;302(3):E344-8.
2. Wijsman CA, et al. (2010) Familial longevity is marked by enhanced insulin sensitivity. Aging Cell, 10:114-121.
3. Rozing MP, et al. (2010) Lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and favourable glucose tolerance in non-diabetic offspring of nonagenarian siblings. J Am Geriatr Soc. 58 :564-9.
4. Westendorp RG, et al. (2009) Nonagenarian Siblings and Their Offspring Display Lower Risk of Mortality and Morbidity than Sporadic Nonagenarians: The Leiden Longevity Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 57: 1634-1637.
5. Dekker P, et al. (2009) Stress-induced responses of human skin fibroblasts in vitro reflect human longevity. Aging Cell. 8: 595- 603.