Dr Filipe Cabreiro

ISMB Lecturer in Metabolism and Metabolic Diseases

Filipe Cabreiro
  • Email

  • Address
    Room 401C
    University College London
    Darwin Building
    Gower Street
    London, WC1E 6BT

  • Phone
    +44 (0) 207 679 2244

Research interests

Welcome to the Laboratory of Metabolism and Metabolic Diseases. The main interests of our lab are the molecular mechanisms underlying metabolic diseases and ageing. These morbidities have a profound impact, both medically and also social and economically.

Animals typically live in close association with commensal and symbiotic microbes. Recent studies have revealed that the status of gut microbiota can influence nutrition-related syndromes such as obesity and type-2 diabetes, and perhaps ageing. However, to-date we know very little about how such interactions are regulated. The suspected role of host-microbiota interactions in human diseases and the regulation of metabolism is largely derived from observational studies, and it is often difficult to establish whether changes in microbiota are cause or effect of pathology. Currently we lack understanding of how microorganisms can precisely regulate the response of key components in metabolic health. Therefore, it is important to understand how these microbial communities determine human physiology, and if they can be targeted by drugs to improve human health. Of particular interest is the role of microbiota in mediating effects on drugs targeted at metabolic disease.

Metformin is the most widely prescribed drug to treat type-2 diabetes. However, its therapeutic potential goes far beyond its anti-hyperglycaemic action, also reducing the risk of cancer and ageing. Recently we showed that metformin can modulate the microbiota of C. elegans to induce a dietary-restriction state and extend lifespan. Despite significant research into the functions and the molecular mechanism of metformin, little is known about its specific cellular target(s), in particular those underlying the long-term wide-range effects on mammalian health independent of glycaemic control. The aim of our lab is to address this omission by providing the first hypothesis-driven investigation into the regulation of mammalian health by metformin through its effects on gut microbiota. To test this, we utilise germ-free and gnotobiotic rodents and apply high-end metabolomics and transcriptomics techniques to investigate the role of metformin in modulating mammalian gut microbiota. Using human cell lines, bacterial strains and C. elegans, we are currently testing new small molecules that target the microbiota to improve health and lifespan. Finally we are studying the role of diet in lifespan, fertility and host-microbe interactions.

Figure: Effects of xenobiotics on host-microbe interactions and modulation of host metabolism

Group members

  • Research assistant (to be announced)
  • Post-doctoral researcher (to be announced)

We are always looking for talented and enthusiastic people (e.g Master students, PhD students, post-doctoral researchers). If you are interested in joining the lab, please contact for availability.

Associated Institutes
Institute of Healthy ageing (

Selected publications

Co-authors are underlined

  • Cabreiro F, Gems D. “Worms need microbes too - Microbiota, Health and Ageing in C. elegans.” EMBO – Molecular Medicine. In press.
  • Cabreiro F, Au C, Leung KY, Vergara N, Cochemé HM, Noori T, Murphy MP, Schuster E, Greene ND, Gems D. “Metformin retards aging in C. elegans by altering microbial folate and methionine metabolism.”. Cell. 2013 Mar 28;153(1):228-39.
  • Burnett C, Valentini S, Cabreiro F, Goss M, Somogyvári M, Piper MD, Hoddinott M, Sutphin GL, Leko V, McElwee JJ, Vazquez R, Orfila A, Ackerman D, Au C, Vinti G, Riesen M, Howard K, Neri C, Bedalov A, Kaeberlein M, Sőti C, Partridge L, Gems D. “Absence of effects of Sir2 over-expression on lifespan in C. elegans and Drosophila”. Nature. 2011 Sep 21;477:482-5.
  • Cabreiro F, Gems D. “Treating aging: progress toward dietary restriction mimetics”. F1000 Biol Rep. 2010 Oct 21;2:76.

For a full list of publications, please see:





Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, University of London

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