Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Gunawardana, Subhadra C. , PhD
Research Associate Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Lab Url: N/A

Phone Number: 322-9710


Gunawardana, Subhadra's picture

Office Address   Mailing Address

702 Light Hall Molecular Physiology and Biophysics 0615

Research Keywords
Diabetes, Endocrinology, Transplantation

Research Specialty
Better therapeutic approaches for Type 1 Diabetes

Research Description
The major focus of my research is to develop better therapeutic approaches for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), without the limitations involved in islet/pancreas transplantation. The subcutaneous space provides a safer and less invasive alternative to traditional transplant sites, and subcutaneous transplantation of embryonic pancreatic tissue has proved successful in correcting T1D in certain immune-deficient mouse strains. Curiously, reversal of diabetes in this situation occurs without an accompanying improvement in insulin response, but an increase in adipose tissue hormones instead. Based on these intriguing observations, I explored novel approaches to correct T1D independent of insulin. Subcutaneous transplantation of embryonic brown adipose tissue (BAT) has proved remarkably successful in correcting T1D without insulin in immune-competent as well as immune-deficient mice. Euglycemia is accompanied by robust proliferation of white adipose tissue (WAT) and significant decrease of inflammation. While insulin remains consistently subnormal, there is a progressive increase in several hypoglycemic adipokines, and suppression of glucagon. Thus it appears that alternative hormones from the BAT transplant, newly-formed WAT, and possibly the endogenous BAT establish a new equilibrium that leads to glucose homeostasis. My current work seeks to document the underlying mechanisms of insulin-independent glycemic regulation following BAT transplants, and to delineate the relationship between BAT function and inflammation.

Cohen, P, Levy, JD, Zhang, Y, Frontini, A, Kolodin, DP, Svensson, KJ, Lo, JC, Zeng, X, Ye, L, Khandekar, MJ, Wu, J, Gunawardana, SC, Banks, AS, Camporez, JP, Jurczak, MJ, Kajimura, S, Piston, DW, Mathis, D, Cinti, S, Shulman, GI, Seale, P, Spiegelman, BM. Ablation of PRDM16 and beige adipose causes metabolic dysfunction and a subcutaneous to visceral fat switch. Cell, 156(1-2), 304-16, 2014.

Gunawardana, SC. Benefits of healthy adipose tissue in the treatment of diabetes. World J Diabetes, 5(4), 420-30, 2014.

Gunawardana, SC. Therapeutic value of brown adipose tissue: Correcting metabolic disease through generating healthy fat. Adipocyte, 1(4), 250-255, 2012.

Gunawardana, SC. Adipose tissue, hormones, and treatment of type 1 diabetes. Curr Diab Rep, 12(5), 542-50, 2012.

Gunawardana, SC, Piston, DW. Reversal of Type 1 Diabetes in Mice by Brown Adipose Tissue Transplant. Diabetes, 3(61), 674-82, 2012.

Gunawardana, SC, Benninger, RK, Piston, DW. Subcutaneous transplantation of embryonic pancreas for correction of type 1 diabetes. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 296(2), E323-32, 2009. PMCID:2645017

Gunawardana, SC, Head, WS, Piston, DW. Dimethyl amiloride improves glucose homeostasis in mouse models of type 2 diabetes. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 294(6), E1097-108, 2008.

Hao, M, Head, WS, Gunawardana, SC, Hasty, AH, Piston, DW. Direct effect of cholesterol on insulin secretion: a novel mechanism for pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction. Diabetes, 56(9), 2328-38, 2007.

Gunawardana, SC, Rocheleau, JV, Head, WS, Piston, DW. Mechanisms of time-dependent potentiation of insulin release: involvement of nitric oxide synthase. Diabetes, 55(4), 1029-33, 2006.

Gunawardana, SC, Hara, M, Bell, GI, Head, WS, Magnuson, MA, Piston, DW. Imaging Beta cell development in real-time using pancreatic explants from mice with green fluorescent protein-labeled pancreatic Beta cells. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim, 41(1-2), 7-11, 2005.

Gunawardana, SC, Head, WS, Piston, DW. Amiloride derivatives enhance insulin release in pancreatic islets from diabetic mice. BMC Endocr Disord, 5, 9, 2005. PMCID:1327667

Gunawardana, SC, Liu, YJ, Macdonald, MJ, Straub, SG, Sharp, GW. Anaplerotic input is sufficient to induce time-dependent potentiation of insulin release in rat pancreatic islets. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 287(5), E828-33, 2004.

Gunawardana, SC, Rocheleau, JV, Head, WS, Piston, DW. Nutrient-stimulated insulin secretion in mouse islets is critically dependent on intracellular pH. BMC Endocr Disord, 4(1), 1, 2004. PMCID:434517

Gunawardana, SC, Sharp, GW. Intracellular pH plays a critical role in glucose-induced time-dependent potentiation of insulin release in rat islets. Diabetes, 51(1), 105-13, 2002.

Gunawardana, SC, Jergens, AE, Ahrens, FA, Niyo, Y. Colonic nitrite and immunoglobulin G concentrations in dogs with inflammatory bowel disease. J Am Vet Med Assoc, 211(3), 318-21, 1997.

Postdoctoral Position Available

Postdoctoral Position Details

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