Vanessa de Mello-Laaksonen

Nutrigenomics related to non-communicable or chronic diseases

Nutrigenomics is an emerging science in nutrition that uses molecular tools to better understand the physiological responses obtained through a certain diet in individuals and population groups.

At the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition the main research interests of the nutrigenomics research line are:

  • To study the relationship of lifestyles, including dietary changes, weight loss and physical activity, with the responses at the molecular and metabolic levels that comprise omics areas such as metabolomics, transcriptomics and epigenomics in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
  • Translate the above to specific dietary modifications and related biomarkers to study their metabolic response according to the genetic profile.
  • Currently, a special interest is to study the molecular interactions between metabolites produced by the gut microbiota derived from specific dietary nutrients that protect from type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 

Research leader: Vanessa de Mello Laaksonen, Docent in Clinical Nutrition, Assistant Professor in Nutrigenomics, tenure track Email

Recent projects

  • Molecular and metabolic mechanisms for the role of gut microbiota-derived indolepropionic acid in the prevention of type 2 diabetes
  • Tailored diets for individuals with different fatty acid desaturase gene locus genotypes: FADSDIET2


PhD student: Ratika Segal,

Master and undergraduate students: Viivi Hynninen,

Main collaborators:

Prof. Jussi Pihlajamäki, UEF (KOBS study, FADSDIET2)

Prof. Markku Laakso, UEF (METSIM study)

Prof. Kirsi Virtanen, UEF (PET study)

Prof. Ursula Schwab, UEF (dietary intervention studies)

Prof. Timo Lakka, UEF (PANIC study)

Emeritus Profs: Matti Uusitupa and Jaakko Tuomilehto (Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study)

Dr. Kati Hanhineva, UEF (non-targeted metabolomics studies)

Prof. Charlotte Ling, Lund University (DNA methylation studies)

Prof. Stine Ulven, Oslo University (PBMC transcriptomics studies)

Dr. Jérôme Ruzzin, University of Bergen (Digital life project)

Prof. Cristiane Leitão, UFRGS, Brazil (nutritional, dietary and metabolic aspects in obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)

Multidisciplinary collaborations with high educational institutions:

UNILAB/Fortaleza, Brazil: Dr. Márcio Flávio Moura de Araújo, nursing sciences

HCPA/UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil: Dr. Luciana Vercoza Viana, Endocrinology and Nutrology sciences

UFRGS, Post-Graduation Program in Nutrition and Health, Brazil: Dr. Thais Steemburgo, Course in Nutrition Genomics in non-communicable chronic diseases

UFV/Viçosa, Brazil: Dr. Helen Hermana M. Hermsdorff, nutrition and health

Key publications:

Tuomainen M, Lindström J, Lehtonen M, Auriola S, Pihlajamäki J, Peltonen M, Tuomilehto J, Uusitupa M, de Mello VD*, Hanhineva K* (*shared last authorship). Associations of serum indolepropionic acid, a gut microbiota metabolite, with type 2 diabetes and low-grade inflammation in high-risk individuals. Nutr Diabetes. 2018 8(1):35.

de Mello VD, Paananen J, Lindström J, Lankinen MA, Shi L, Kuusisto J, Pihlajamäki J, Auriola S, Lehtonen M, Rolandsson O, Bergdahl IA, Nordin E, Ilanne-Parikka P, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S, Landberg R, Eriksson JG, Tuomilehto J, Hanhineva K, Uusitupa M. Indolepropionic acid and novel lipid metabolites are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study. Sci Rep. 2017 7:46337.

de Mello VD, Matte A, Perfilyev A, Männistö V, Rönn T, Nilsson E, Käkelä P, Ling C, Pihlajamäki J. Human liver epigenetic alterations in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis are related to insulin action. Epigenetics. 2017 12(4):287-295.

Takkunen M, de Mello VD, Schwab US, Kuusisto J, Vaittinen M, Ågren JJ, Laakso M, Pihlajamäki J, Uusitupa MIJ. Gene-diet interaction of a common FADS1 variant with marine polyunsaturated fatty acids for fatty acid composition in plasma and erythrocytes among men. Mol Nutr Food Res, 2016 60:381-9.

Nilsson E, Matte A, Perfilyev A, de Mello VD, Käkelä P, Pihlajamäki J, Ling C. Epigenetic alterations in human liver from subjects with type 2 diabetes in parallel with reduced folate levels. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015 100(11):E1419-501

Kolehmainen M, Ulven SM, Paananen J, de Mello V, Schwab U, Carlberg C, Myhrstad M, Pihlajamäki J, Dungner E, Sjölin E, Gunnarsdottir I, Cloetens L, Landin-Olsson M, Åkesson B, Rosqvist F, Hukkanen J, Herzig K-H, Dragsted LO, Savolainen MJ, Brader L, Hermansen K, Risérus U, Thorsdottir I, Poutanen KS, Uusitupa M, Arner P, Dahlman I. Healthy Nordic diet down-regulates the expression of genes involved in inflammation in subcutaneous adipose tissue in individuals with features of the metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr 2015 101:228-39.

de Mello VD, Pulkkinen L, Lalli M, Kolehmainen M, Pihlajamäki J and Uusitupa M. DNA methylation in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Ann Med 2014 46:103-113.

de Mello VD, Kolehmainen M, Schwab U, Pulkkinen L, Uusitupa M. Gene expression of peripheral blood mononuclear cells as a tool in dietary intervention studies: what do we know so far? Mol Nutr Food Res 2012 56:1160-1172.

de Mello VD, Lindström J, Eriksson J, Ilanne-Parikka P, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S, Sundvall J, Laakso M, Tuomilehto J, Uusitupa M. Insulin secretion and its determinants in the progression of impaired glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes in impaired glucose tolerant individuals: The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study. Diabetes Care 2012 35:211–217.

de Mello VD, Schwab U, Kolehmainen M, Koenig W, Siloaho M, Poutanen K, Mykkänen H, Uusitupa M. A diet high in fatty fish, bilberries and wholegrain products improves markers of endothelial function and inflammation in individuals with impaired glucose metabolism in a randomised controlled trial: The Sysdimet study. Diabetologia 2011 54:2755-2767.

de Mello VD, Lankinen M, Schwab US, Kolehmainen M, Lehto S, Seppänen-Laakso T, Oresic M, Pulkkinen L, Uusitupa M, Erkkilä AT. Link between plasma ceramides, inflammation and insulin resistance: association with serum IL-6 concentration in patients with coronary heart disease. Diabetologia 2009 52:2612-2615.

de Mello VD, Erkkila AT, Schwab US, Pulkkinen L, Kolehmainen M, Mustafa A, Mussalo H, Lankinen M, Oresic M, Lehto S, Uusitupa M. The effect of fatty or lean fish intake on inflammatory gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with coronary heart disease. Eur J Nutr 2009 48:447-455.

de Mello VD, Kolehmainen M, Pulkkinen L, Schwab U, Mager U, Laaksonen DE, Niskanen L, Gylling H, Atalay M, Rauramaa R, Uusitupa M. Weight loss and improvement of insulin sensitivity are associated with downregulation of genes involved in NFκB activation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of subjects with the metabolic syndrome - the GENOBIN study. Diabetologia 2008 51:2060-2067.

Erkkilä A, de Mello VD, Risérius U, Laaksonen DE. Dietary fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: an epidemiological approach. Prog Lipid Res 2008 47:172-187.

de Mello VD, Zelmanovitz T, Perassolo MS, Azevedo MJ, Gross JL. Withdrawal of red meat from the usual diet reduces albuminuria and improves the lipid profile in type 2 diabetic patients with macroalbuminuria. Am J Clin Nutr 2006 83:1032-1038.