Nutrition and Skeletal Health Laboratory

The Nutrition and Skeletal Health Laboratory is a clinical and translational research lab focused on identifying determinants of peak bone strength, specifically with respect to diet and chronic disease.

We are currently enrolling participants: 

The Nutrition and Skeletal Health Lab at UGA is seeking volunteers to participate in a research study exploring bone metabolism and hormonal differences between people with and without cystic fibrosis. This study will help inform future studies aimed at preventing fracture and osteoporosis in a vulnerable clinical population.

What is involved in this study? This study includes one five hour appointment at the Nutrition and Skeletal Health Lab (Dawson Hall, Suite 279) and involves bone health assessment, body size measures, a multi-sample oral glucose tolerance test, and questionnaires relating to your overall health status, sleep, physical activity and diet. The multi-sample oral glucose tolerance test includes drinking a sweetened beverage and having your blood drawn over the course of approximately two hours.

Who can participate in this study? Individuals who are generally healthy and between the ages of 18 and 33 years are eligible to participate in this study. Pregnant females are excluded from this study.

What are the risks of participating in this study? Bone density scans use a small amount of X-radiation, which can be harmful to your health in excessive amounts, possible emotional discomfort while answering health or diet-related questions, and risk of physical discomfort from the blood draw and following drinking the sweetened beverage.

What are the benefits of participating in this study? There are no direct benefits of participation in this study.

Are there any incentives for participating in this study? Individuals who participate in this study will receive a $100 check in the mail 2-6 weeks following their study visit.

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please contact the Nutrition and Skeletal Health Lab at NASH-lab@uga.edu.

Active Research Projects

Defining the Role of the "Gut-Bone Axis" in Diabetes-Related Bone Fragility

Bone metabolism is orchestrated by a closely regulated balance between osteoblasts, which form new bone, and osteoclasts, which break down old bone. These bone-regulating cells are responsive to many stimuli, including nutrient intake and the hormones that regulate metabolism. Experimental studies evaluating changes in bone metabolism following food ingestion in adults report significant decreases in osteoclast-mediated bone degradation, and that various gut-derived "incretin" hormones involved in nutrient metabolism mediate the favorable effects on bone. Pathogenesis of various complex medical conditions involve perturbed incretin response to food ingestion resulting in dysregulation of glucose metabolism, including type 2 diabetes and cystic fibrosis. Both type 2 diabetes and cystic fibrosis are associated with bone fragility, and our lab is currently leading several studies aimed at elucidating the role of the novel gut-bone axis in bone health deficits among people living with these conditions. These studies involve unique inter-institutional collaborations with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as funding from the University of Georgia Obesity Initiative.

Bone Strength in Youth with Type 2 Diabetes

Over 13 million US adolescents are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and greater than 366 million people worldwide are expected to develop type 2 diabetes by the year 2030. Compared to type 2 diabetes in adulthood, youth-onset diabetes is a more pervasive condition, associated with an accelerated onset of complications ranging from micro- and macro-vascular complications, kidney failure, and pancreatic beta-cell decline. Adults with type 2 diabetes and children with obesity are at an increased risk for fracture, but the influence of type 2 diabetes on the growing skeleton is unknown. Accordingly, the goal of this project is to understand the influence of type 2 diabetes on the gorwing skeleton. 

This project is funded by the American Diabetes Association, and involves an inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration between the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. The first study from this project was recently published in Diabetes Care, reporting the first clinical evidence supporting an adverse influence of type 2 diabetes on peak bone mass attainment. Data collection for a clinical study comparing bone microarchitecture and strength between obese youth with normal glucose control and type 2 diabetes is currently ongoing at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Obesity and Diabetes-Related Cardiovascular Disease in Youth

Visceral fat plays a key role in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease progression. Gold standard methods for visceral fat assessment including magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography, but excess cost, time, and radiation exposure limit the application of these techniques in pediatric populations and large-scale clinical studies. Recent advancements in dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) technologies allow clinicials and researchers alike to acquire a valid assessment of abdominal fat using a conventional DXA scan. However, it is unknown whether visceral fat from DXA provides added insight with respect to cardiovascular and metabolic risk beyond standard clinical mesures of adiposity such as BMI or waist circumference.

The goal of this project is to assess relationships between visceral fat from DXA and sub-clinical measures of cardiovascular disease (arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis) in a large cohort of youth with healthy weight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. This study is funded by the University of Georgia Obesity Initiative, and involves an inter-institutional collaboration with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Data collection for this study has been completed, and data analyses are ongoing. 

Seeking Applications

Please contact Dr. Kindler for information regarding undergraduate, graduate (MS or PhD), or post-doctoral training opportunities. 

Meet the Staff

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