About    

The Foundations of Lipids and Exercise (FLEX) laboratory is a multidisciplinary lab focused on translational research related to identifying molecular signatures/biomarkers of response to behavioral and lifestyle interventions. The lab employs an integrated -omics (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, lipidomics, and diverse cellular assays) approach to identify and characterize the biological factors associated with the response of clinically relevant cardiometabolic phenotypes, particularly lipids and lipoproteins, to lifestyle and exercise interventions.

The goal is to better predict which individuals are most likely to benefit from lifestyle therapies in the management of cardiometabolic risk factors and to identify the features & functions of circulating molecules contributing to the cardioprotective benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

    The Team    

Director

Mark A. Sarzynski, PhD

Manager

C. Scott Schwartz, MS

The FLEX lab is led by Mark Sarzynski, PhD, FACSM, FAHA and housed in the Dept. of Exercise Science within the Arnold School of Public Health at the Univ. of South Carolina.

Links to research profiles:

PhD Student

Jacob L. Barber, MS

MS Student

Emanuel J. Ayala, BS

Undergraduate Students

Andrew N. Hendrix

Major: Exercise Science

Expected Graduation: 2021

Katherine J. Kerwin

Major: Biological Sciences

Expected Graduation: 2022

Julianna E. Tyndall

Major: Public Health

Expected Graduation: 2023

FLEX Alumni

PhD Students:

  • Jonathan J. Ruiz-Ramie, PhD, 2020, Dissertation: Lipoprotein discordance: Associations with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and response to exercise; Current Position: Assistant Professor, Augusta University

  • George L. Grieve, PhD, 2018, Dissertation: The effects of exercise mode and intensity on energy expenditure during and after exercise in resistance trained males; Current Position: Assistant Professor, The Citadel

  • Leanna M. Ross, PhD, 2017, Dissertation: The association of changes in cardiorespiratory fitness with changes in cardiometabolic risk factors; Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, Duke University School of Medicine

MS Students:

  • Ryan Flynn, MS, 2020, Thesis: The Effects of Exercise Training Modality on Circulating Branched-Chain Amino Acid and Ketone Levels in Diabetics; Current Position: PhD Student, Department of Kinesiology, Penn State University

  • Jacob L. Barber, MS, 2018, Thesis: The Effects of Exercise Training on Cardiovascular-related Circulating MicroRNAs; Current Position: PhD student at FLEX Lab UofSC

Undergraduate Students:

  • 2020: Brice Smoker, BS, 2020, Honors Thesis: Association of Body Mass Index Genetic Risk Markers with Body Composition During Adolescence; Current Position: Medical School, University of South Carolina

  • 2018: Emanuel Ayala, William Alex Clarkson, Bailey Radenbaugh, Milaan Shah

  • 2017: Rama Hassouneh, Kaitlyn Muscarella

  • 2016: Jacob Barber, Lois Buist, Caitlin Cramer, Andrew Dopp

   Research   

FLEX Lab Current Research Projects:

  • NIH R01: Effects of exercise dose and type on HDL function and composition

    • Goal: Comprehensively identify the biological, clinical, and genomic factors underlying exercise-induced changes in HDL function

      • The effects of varying doses and types of exercise training will be examined in three key functions of HDL: cholesterol efflux, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative properties.

      • The effects of exercise training on the HDL proteome, HDL lipidome, and HDL miRNA profiles will be examined

    • Project will utilize data & samples from 4 large clinical exercise trials (N=1224) of aerobic, resistance, or combination exercise training in young-to-older adults with metabolic profiles spanning the diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome spectrum.

  • NIH R01 (awaiting NOA): Molecular predictors of cardiometabolic responsiveness to an endurance exercise intervention

    • Goals: (1) Identify comprehensive plasma molecular signatures (metabolites & proteins) of exercise responsiveness for VO2max, insulin sensitivity, visceral fat, and HDL-cholesterol. (2) To examine whether biomarkers of exercise response are potentially causally related to relevant cardiometabolic traits and outcomes

    • Project will utilize proteomic, metabolomic,  genomic, and phenotype data from the HERITAGE Family Study (N=715)

  • Pilot study: Molecular predictors of VO2peak response to training in heart failure

    • Will examine differences in the circulating microRNA and protein profiles of high vs low responders of VO2peak to aerobic training in patients with heart failure with reduced left ventricular function (HFrEF)

  • Metabolic health and overweight/obesity status projects

    • Associations of metabolic health and weight status with cholesterol efflux capacity and NMR lipoprotein profile in the Dallas Heart Study

    • Associations of metabolic health and weight status with cardiometabolic responsiveness to exercise training in HERITAGE Family Study

 

   Collaborators   

 
 

    Publications    

2020

  1. Marini CF, Sisti D, Leon AS, Skinner JS, Sarzynski MA, Bouchard C, Rocchi MB, Piccoli G, Stocchi V, Federici A, Lucertini F. HRR & VO₂R fractions are not equivalent: Is it time to rethink aerobic exercise prescription methods? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (in press)

  2. Sarzynski MA and Bouchard C. World-class athletic performance and genetic endowment. Nature Metabolism 2020; 2: 796-798. PMID: 32943784. DOI: 10.1038/s42255-020-0233-6

  3. Vellers, HL, Verhein KC, Burkholder AB, Lee J, Kim Y, Lightfoot JT, Shi M, Weinberg C, Rakinen T, Sarzynski MA, Bouchard, C. Association between Mitochondrial DNA Sequence and Heteroplasmy with maximal Oxygen Uptake Trainability. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2020; 52: 2303-2309. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002390

  4. Murthy VL, Baldridge AS, Carnethon MR, Sidney S, Bouchard C, Sarzynski MA, Lima JAC, Lewis GD, Shah SJ, Shah RV. Polygenetic risk, fitness and obesity: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Youth (CARDIA) Study. JAMA Cardiology 2020; 5(3): 40-48. PMID: 31913407. DOI: 10.1001/jamacardio.2019.5220

 

2019

  1. Williams SA, Kivimaki M, Langenberg C, Hingorani AD, Casas JP, Bouchard C, Jonasson C, Sarzynski MA, Shipley MJ, Alexander L, Ash J, Bauer T, Chadwick J, Datta G, DeLisle RK, Hagar Y, Hinterberg M, Ostroff R, Weiss S, Ganz P, Wareham N. Plasma protein patterns as comprehensive indicators of health. Nature Medicine 2019; 25: 1851-1857. PMID: 31792462 DOI: 10.1038/s41591-019-0665-2

  2. Ross LM*, Barber JL*, McLain AC, Weaver RG, Sui X, Blair SN, Sarzynski MA. The Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Ideal Cardiovascular Health in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. *equal authorship. Journal of Physical Activity & Health 2019; 16(11): 968-975. PMID: 31553947 DOI: 10.1123/jpah.2018-0220

  3. Ross R, Goodpaster BH, Koch LG, Sarzynski MA, Kohrt WM, Johannsen NM, Skinner JS, Castro A, Irving BA, Noland RC, Sparks LM, Spielmann G, Day AG, Pitsch W, Hopkins WG, Bouchard C. Precision Exercise Medicine: Understanding How Exercise Response Varies. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019; 53(18): 1141-1153. PMID: 30862704 DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-100328

  4. Robbins JM, Herzig M, Morningstar JE, Wilson J, Sarzynski MA, Bouchard C, Rankinen T, Gerszten RE. Dimethlyguanidino valeric acid predicts partial resistance to the metabolic health benefits of regular exercise. JAMA Cardiology 2019; 4(7): 636-643. PMID: 31166569 DOI: 10.1001/jamacardio.2019.1573

  5. Weaver RG, Brazendale K, Hunt E, Sarzynski MA, Beets MW, White K. Disparities in Childhood Overweight and Obesity by Income: An epidemiological examination using three nationally representative datasets. International Journal of Obesity 2019; 43(6): 1210-1222. PMID: 30718822 DOI: 10.1038/s41366-019-0331-2

  6. Barber JL, Zellers KN, Barringhaus KG, Bouchard C, Spinale FG, Sarzynski MA. The Effects of Exercise Training on Circulating Cardiovascular-related MicroRNAs. Scientific Reports 2019; 9:7527. PMID: 31101833 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-43978-x

  7. Ghosh S, Hota M, Chai X, Kiranya J, Ghosh P, He Z, Ruiz-Ramie JJ, Sarzynski MA, Bouchard C. Exploring the underlying biology of intrinsic cardiorespiratory fitness through integrative analysis of genomic variants and muscle gene expression profiling. Journal of Applied Physiology (in press). PMID: 30605401 DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00035.2018

  8. Ruiz-Ramie JJ, Barber JL, Sarzynski MA. Effects of exercise on HDL functionality. Current Opinion in Lipidology 2019; 30: 16-23 PMID: 30480581 DOI: 10.1097/MOL.0000000000000568

  9. Bornstein DB, Grieve GL, Clennin M, McLain AC, Whitsel LP, Hauret KG, Jones BH, Sarzynski MA. Which US States Pose the Greatest Threats to Military Readiness and Public Health? Public health policy and national security implications for a cross-sectional investigation of cardiorespiratory fitness and injuries among U.S. Army Recruits from 2010- 2013. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 2019; 25: 36-44. PMID: 29319585 DOI: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000778

2018

  1. Baird JF, Gaughan ME, Saffer HM, Sarzynski MA, Herter TM, Fritz SL, Den Ouden DB, Stewart JC. The effect of energy-matched exercise intensity on brain-derived neurotrophic factor and motor learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 2018; 156: 33-44. PMID: 30359727 DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2018.10.008

  2. Barber JL, Kraus WE, Church TS, Hagberg JM, Thompson PD, Bartlett DB, Beets MW, Blair SN, Earnest CP, Huffman KM, Landers-Ramos R, Leon AS, Rao DC, Seip RL, Skinner JS, Slentz CA, Wilund KR, Bouchard C, Sarzynski MA. Effects of Regular Endurance Exercise on GlycA: Combined Analysis of 14 Exercise Interventions. Atherosclerosis 2018; 277: 1-6. PMID: 30170218 DOI: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2018.07.029

  3. Sarzynski MA, Ruiz-Ramie JJ, Barber JL, Slentz CA, Apolzan JW, McGarrah RW, Harris MN, Church TS, Borja MS, He Y, Oda MN, Martin CK, Kraus WK, Rohatgi A. The effects of increasing exercise intensity and dose on multiple measures of high-density lipoprotein function. Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2018; 38: 943-952. PMID: 29437573 DOI: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.117.310307

  4. Rao P, Merath K, Drigalenko E, Jadhav AYL, Komorowski RA, Goldblat MI, Rohatgi A, Sarzynski MA, Gawrieh S, Olivier M. Proteomic characterization of high-density lipoprotein particles in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Clinical Proteomics 2018; 15:10. PMID: 29527140 DOI: 10.1186/s12014-018-9186-0

  5. Miller KE, Martz DC, Stoner C, Jowers A, Taheri ML, Sarzynski MA, Wilkinson LW, Plaisance EP. Efficacy of an individualized telephone-based medical nutrition program on blood lipid and lipoprotein metabolism: results from Our Healthy Heart. Nutrition & Dietetics 2018; 75(1): 73-78. PMID: 29411495 DOI: 10.1111/1747-0080.12366

2017

  1. Clarke K, Ricciardi S, Pearson T, Bharudin I, Davidson PK, Bonomo M, Brina D, Scagliola A, Simpson DM, Beynon RJ, Khanim F, Ankers J, Sarzynski MA, Ghosh S, Pisconti A, Rozman J, Hrabe de Angelis M, Bunce C, Stewart C, Egginton S, Caddick M, Jackson M, Bouchard C, Biffo S, Falciani F. The Role of eIF6 in Skeletal Muscle Homeostasis Revealed by Endurance Training Co-Expression Networks. Cell Reports 2017; 21(6): 1507-1520​ DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.10.040

  2. Sui X, Sarzynski MA, Lee DC, Kokkinos P. Impact of changes in cardiorespiratory fitness on hypertension, dyslipidemia and survival: an overview of the epidemiological evidence. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 2017; 60(1): 56-66. PMID: 28274819 DOI: 10.1016/j.pcad.2017.02.006

  3. Sui X, Sarzynski MA, Lee DC, Zhang J, Kokkinos P, Payne J, Blair SN. Longitudinal patterns of cardiorespiratory fitness can predict the development of hypertension among men and women. American Journal of Medicine 2017; 130(4): 469-476. PMID: 27986522 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.11.017

  4. Sarzynski MA, Ghosh S, Bouchard C. Genomic and transcriptomic predictors of response levels to endurance exercise training. J Physiology 2017; 595 (9): 2931-2939. PMID: 27234805 PMCID: PMC5407970 DOI: 10.1113/JP272559

  5. Graff et al. Genome-wide physical activity interactions in obesity ‒ a meta-analysis of 200,452 adults. PLoS Genetics 2017; 13 (4): e1006528. PMID: 28448500 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006972 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006528

  6. Justice AE et al. Genome-Wide Meta-Analysis Accounting for Smoking Behavior Identifies Novel Loci for Obesity Traits. Nature Communications 2017; 8: 14977. PMID: 28443625 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14977

2016

  1. Breneman C, Polinksi K, Sarzynski MA, Lavie CJ, Kokkinos PF, Ahmed A, Sui X.The impact of cardiorespiratory fitness levels on the risk of developing atherogenic dyslipidemia. American Journal of Medicine 2016; 129 (10): 1060-1066. PMID: 27288861 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.05.017

  2. Sung YJ, Perusse L, Sarzynski MA, Fornage M, Sidney S, Sternfeld B, Rice TK, Terry G, Jacobs DR Jr, Katzmarzyk P, Carr JJ, Ghosh S, Rankinen T, Rao DC, Bouchard C. Genome-wide association of abdominal and visceral fat with replication of prior findings. International Journal of Obesity 2016; 40(4): 662-74. PMID: 26480920 PMCID: PMC4821694 DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2015.217

  3. Ried et al. A principal component meta-analysis on multiple anthropometric traits identifies novel loci for body shape in >170,000 individuals of the GIANT consortium. Nature Communications2016; 7: 13357. PMID: 27876822 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13357

  4. Sarzynski MA, Loos RJF, Lucia A, Perusse L, Roth SM, Wolfarth B, Rankinen T, Bouchard C. Advances in Exercise, Fitness, and Performance Genomics in 2015. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2016; 48(10): 1906-1916. PMID: 27183119 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000982

  5. Lu et al. New loci for body fat percentage reveal link between adiposity andcardiometabolic disease risk. Nature Communications 2016; 7: 10495. PMID: 26833246 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10495

  6. Kilpelainen et al. Genome-wide meta-analysis uncovers novel loci influencing circulating leptin levels Nature Communications 2016; 7: 10494. PMID: 2683309 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10494

  7. Rankinen T, Fuku N, Wolfarth B , Sarzynski MA, Alexeev DG, Ahmetov II, Boulay MR, Cieszczyk P , Eynon N, Garton F, Generozov EV, Govorun VM, Houweling PJ, Kawahara T, Kostryukova ES, Kulemin NA, Larin AK, Maciejewska-Karłowska A, Miyachi M, MuniesaCA, Murakami H , Naumov VA, Ospanova EA, Padmanabhan S, Pavlenko AV, Santiago C , Sawczuk M, Scott RA, Wang G , Yvert T, Perusse L , Rauramaa R, North K, Lucia A , PitsiladisY, Bouchard C. No Evidence of a Common DNA Variant Profile Specific to World Class Endurance Athletes. Plos ONE 2016; 11(1): e0147330 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147330

  8. Shah RV, Murthy VL, Colangelo LA, Reis J, Venkatesh BA, Sharma R, Abbasi SA, Goff DC Jr, Carr JJ, Rana JS, Terry J, Bouchard C, Sarzynski MA, Eisman A, Neilan T, Das S, Jerosch-Herold M, Lewis CE, Carnethon M, Lewis GD, Lima JAC. Fitness in Young Adulthood is Associated with Improved Survival and Cardiovascular Risk: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. JAMA Internal Medicine 2016; 176(1): 87-95. PMID: 26618471 DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.6309

FLEX lab Student award day 2018.JPG

2018 EXSC Undergraduate Student of the Year

Congrats William (Alex) Clarkson! (3rd from left)

    News    

 

   Funding   

NIH/NHLBI R01: The Molecular and Genetic Basis of Exercise-induced Changes in HDL Function

  • R01HL146462, April 2019 – March 2024, Direct Costs: $2,770,482

  • 3R01HL146462-02S1, Diversity supplement to E. Ayala, April 2020 – March 2022, Budget: $123,032

  • Project details on NIH RePORTER

NIH/NIGMS South Carolina IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE): P20 GM103499 https://sites.google.com/view/scinbre/home

NIH/NIGMS Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE): Center for Dietary Supplements and Inflammation: P20 GM103641

 

    Positions    

 

The FLEX Lab is recruiting talented graduate students and post docs with flexible starting dates (see flyer below). Please contact Dr. Sarzynski for more info

    Contact    

 

Mark A. Sarzynski, PhD, FACSM, FAHA

sarz@mailbox.sc.edu

921 Assembly Street 

PHRC Room 301B

Columbia, SC 29208

Office: 803-777-9510

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