Research / Dr. Spencer Proctor

Dr. Spencer Proctor

Full Professor & Acting Department Chair (as of July 1, 2014) and Director, Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases Laboratory

Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science
4-002J Li Ka Shing (LKS) Centre for Health Research Innovation
(780) 492-4672
(780) 492-9270 (fax)
spencer.proctor@ualberta.ca


Dr. Spencer Proctor trained as a physiologist and cardiovascular scientist in both Australia and Canada. He was appointed to the Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition at the University of Alberta in 2004 and founded the Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases (MCVD) Laboratory. Dr. Proctor’s research program spans a unique continuum of expertise in the areas of nutrition, metabolism, physiology, behaviour, food health and chronic disease.

Areas of focus include:

  1. Absorption/metabolism of dietary lipids in health, cardiovascular risk and the Metabolic Syndrome.

  2. Interaction of lipids with arterial vessels during atherosclerosis and insulin resistance.

  3. Novel bio-activity of dietary fatty acids and impact to the Metabolic Syndrome.

Publications

Current Series of Projects


Research Highlights:

  • We have been the first to provide visual evidence that intestinally derived cholesterol particles (chylomicrons) penetrate arterial tissue after hydrolysis to their smaller remnant form, and therefore contribute to the atherogenic process.

  • We have pioneered new fluorescent imaging techniques together with the application of confocal microscopy to assess the interaction of lipoprotein particles in arterial vessels that lead to the discovery that properties of vascular biology during disease (hypercholesterolemia and diabetes) can alter the rate at which lipoproteins become trapped in arterial vessels.

  • We continue to contribute to studies that correlate raised levels of chylomicron particles (measured as apolipoprotein-B48) and risk of heart disease in numerous clinical conditions. 

  • We have developed a model of over-production of intestinal derived cholesterol particles (lipoproteins) during insulin resistance that is thought to contribute to dyslipidemia and CVD risk.

  • We have discovered lipid lowering properties of trans-11 vaccenic acid, a ruminant (natural) trans-fat that is commonly found in dairy products.

Research Summary:

Dr. Proctor and the MCVD Laboratory are contributing to the link between Nutrition and dietary-related chronic disease such as obesity and overweight to increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Traditionally, (bad or LDL-type cholesterol (made by the liver) has been viewed as the primary fasting end point associated with predicting CVD risk. However, as many half those diagnosed with a cardiac event have (normal circulating concentrations of LDL cholesterol, suggesting other factors are at work. Indeed recent epidemiological evidence suggests that non-fasting lipids (following absorption from the intestine) more accurately predict CVD risk than traditional indices. Dr. Proctor and his team (together in collaboration with Dr. Donna Vine, Nutrition, UofA) has been one of the first to contribute to the fact that intestinal lipoproteins (chylomicrons; that function to absorb and transport dietary lipids) are involved in the accumulation of lipid in arterial vessels during CVD. They continue to explore broad nutritional aspects (including clinical studies in collaboration with Dr. Geoff Ball Pediatrics UofA) that might impact on the secretion and metabolism of dietary lipids and their consequence to overweight and CVD risk (and/or the Metabolic Syndrome). Most recently they have begun to investigate potential behavioral aspects of weight gain (and/or loss) (collaboration with Dr. David Pierce, Sociology UofA) in order to bridge the impact of poor-nutritional foods and early biochemical and lipid alterations.