MRUMMetabolic Research Unit Maastricht

Contact details:

Prof. Patrick Schrauwen
P. Debeyelaan 25, 6229HX Maastricht

Our modern lifestyle with too much food, lack of physical activity and too little sleep contributes to metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and certain forms of cancer. The world-class facilities of the Metabolic Research Unit Maastricht (MRUM) are uniquely equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure to study human (energy) metabolism in large detail, both on whole-body and on tissue level. Understanding the metabolic basis of chronic metabolic diseases is important in the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment. MRUM allows investigation of the effects of lifestyle interventions (nutrition, exercise, environmental temperature, sleep, light) and pharmacological interventions on metabolism. 121 Currently in the Netherlands, half of the population is overweight, and more than 10 percent is obese. Overweight, obesity and aging are strong risk factors for metabolic disease, including type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction and stroke. In addition it predisposes to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease and various forms of cancer. The world-class facilities of the Metabolic Research Unit Maastricht are uniquely equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure to study human (energy) metabolism in large detail, both on whole-body and on tissue level. Understanding the metabolic basis of chronic metabolic diseases is important in the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment. MRUM allows investigation of the effects of lifestyle interventions (nutrition, exercise, environmental temperature) and pharmacological interventions on metabolism

The Metabolic Research Unit Maastricht (MRUM) contains 20 metabolic rooms conforming to the
latest quality standards regarding safety, climate and research infrastructure. A combination of the
latest technologies available allows control of- and stability for all subject environment parameters
as well as for research equipment parameters. Six metabolic units each with two beds are equipped
with two custom-made ventilated hood systems (Omnical, Maastricht, The Netherlands), four
calibrated (syringe) pumps for the infusion of substrates, stable isotope tracers and pharmaceutical
agents, and bed-side blood analysers for the measurement of glucose, lactate and electrolytes
(EML105, radiometer Copenhagen) and for pO2, pCO2 and pH (ABL501, radiometer Copenhagen).
These facilities are routinely used to perform one- or two-step hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic
clamps in humans to determine insulin sensitivity, as well as postprandial metabolic studies. Nine
rooms are specifically tailored to research questions involving the highest level of exercise and body
composition assessment (DXA, labeled water, BodPod and underwater weighing). One of the unique
features of the MRUM are the 5 climate controlled respiration chambers (room calorimeters), making
the facilities unique world-wide. These rooms are like small hotel rooms (14 m3), equipped with a
bed, sink, toilet, computer, TV and DVD player. A respiration chamber allows to study human energy
expenditure and substrate oxidation under strictly standardised conditions over a period of 12h up to
7 days. All necessary equipment to perform cardiovascular risk assessment (24h blood pressure,
pulse-wave velocity, endothelial function, fundus microvascular analysis, etc.) is available within the
MRUM. The metabolic unit is also equipped with 3 motion laboratories including a CAREN (Computer
Assisted Rehabilitation Environment) system (MOTEK-ForceLink)—a versatile, multi-sensory virtual
reality system used for measurement, treatment and rehabilitation of human locomotion, in relation
to metabolic disease. Additionally, techniques to study in detail adipose tissue and muscle
metabolism are available (tissue balance techniques, blood flow measurements and microdialysis).
Within MRUM the Stable Isotopes Research Centre (SIRC) provides analytical facilities and expertise
that enables researchers to incorporate stable isotope techniques in the nutritional, physiological and
clinical studies. Stable isotope tracers (glucose, fatty acids and amino acids labelled with 2H, 13C
and 15N-atoms) are ingested orally or infused directly into the blood stream, and the metabolic fate
of the tracer molecules can subsequently be followed and conversion rates quantified, providing
information on the rate of substrate oxidation and on flux rates through degradation or synthesis
pathways. The Centre is housed within an acclimatized laboratory, and includes (among others) a
Finnigan MAT-252 GC combustion IRMS with detectors for CO2 (masses 44, 45 and 46), N2 (masses
28, 29 and 30) and acetylene, a Carlo Erba elemental analyser for combustion of solid samples and
a custom build automated gas injection system, and a Finnigan Incos-XL GC-MS for measurement of
the enrichment of metabolites with TTR's > 0.01 (MPE >1%). Additional mass spectrometry
equipment including nano/microLC-MSMS (Thermo-Fisher Q-Exactive) and GC-MS-MS (Agilent
GCQQQ 7000 system) are available for the analysis of lipids and proteins and for proteomic and
lipidomic analysis of small human blood and tissue samples.

Connection to strategic developments
Topsectoren: 
Life Sciences & Health
ESFRI:
Health and Food