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Ouliana Ziouzenkova

Associate Professor, Department of Human Sciences

Program Area: Human Nutrition

(614) 292-5034

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Ouliana Ziouzenkova is an associate professor of human nutrition in the Department of Human Sciences. Her research agenda focuses on nutrigenomic studies of vitamin A metabolism and their implementation for prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes, and diabetes related neurological complications.


  • PhD, University of Graz, Austria, 1997
  • MS, Degree legalization, Graz, Austria, 1993
  • BS/MS, The State University "Schewtchenko", Kiev, Ukraine, 1986

Research Interests

Research Summary

  • Fundamental pathways regulating metabolic responses and examines their relevance for development of the metabolic syndrome.        
  • Vitamin A is a critical regulator of energy storage and expenditure and is thought to prevent metabolic diseases
    • Recent studies of dietary supplementation with vitamin A showed results associating this vitamin with metabolic complications and increase in mortality questioning its benefits.
    • Metabolic function of vitamin A includes action of its two major metabolites retinaldehyde and retinoic acid.
    • Distinct enzymes control their production: 1) alcohol dehydrogenases (Adh) oxidize vitamin A to generate retinaldehyde; and 2) retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (Raldh) oxidize retinaldehyde to retinoic acid.
    • High-fat feeding induces retinoic acid synthesis, whereas genetic deficiency in retinaldehyde production is associated with obesity. Metabolic function of retinoic acid depends on transcriptional activation of distinct nuclear receptors implicated in fat formation.    
  • Recent studies highlighted retinaldehyde's functions in fat formation in two mouse models demonstrating Rald deficiency (Adh1-/-) and Rald accumulation (Raldh1-/-) in fat tissue.
    • Indication of an impaired differentiation of Raldh1-/- fat cells and linked these responses to the transcriptional repression of two nuclear receptors: peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma) and retinoid X receptor (RXR).
    • Receptors are critical determinants for the fat formation in vivo and in vitro.     
  • Further research directions:
    • Mechanisms regulating retinaldehyde effects in obesity Vitamin A paradigm in the regulation of atherogenesis Vitamin A implication in the regulation of metabolic sex differences
    • Identify targets in vitamin A metabolism for obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes treatment 


Postdoctoral Training

  • 1997 – 1999: Research Associate, University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, LosAngeles, CA    
  • 1999 – 2003: Research Associate, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA 

Academic Appointments 

  •  1999 – 2003: Research Fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
  •  2003 – 2007: Instructor in Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA     
  •  2007 – Present: Assistant Professor, Ohio State University      
  •  Research centers on:
    • Identification of thermogenic gene programs regulated by vitamin A metabolites.
    • Integration of nanotechnology and bioengineering of thermogenic cells for treatment of obesity, specifically by induction of thermogenesis in visceral fat.
    • Elucidation of gene program by vitamin A metabolites in adipocytes and B cells


  •  1994 – Hermes-Vitamin-Award 1994 for Publication: Winklhofer-Roob, Ziouzenkova, Puhl, Ellenmunter, Greiner, Müller, Van't Hof, Esterbauer, Shmerling.
    •  Impaired resistance to oxidation of low density lipoproteins in cystic fibrosis: Improvement during vitamin E supplementation.      
  •  1998 – Oxygen Club of California, Lester Packer Young Investigator Award     
  •  1998 – "Cherry Award " (the top application), American Heart Association Fellowship      
  •  1998 – Young Investigator Award, IX Biennial Meeting, International Society for Free Radical Research        
  •   2002 – Young Investigator Award, XI Biennial Meeting, International Society for Free Radical  Research        
  •   2002 – Louis and Norman Katz Basic Science Award Winner, “Enzymatically-Active Lipoprotein Lipase Generates Endogenous PPAR-alpha Ligands”, American Heart Association        
  •   2003 – Travel Award, Hot Topics in Endocrinology, American Society for Endocrinology, San Diego          
  •   2004 – Lerner Young Faculty Award at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston         
  •   2007 – New Investigator Award, First Annual Meeting, Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, Washington DC          
  •   2009 – Nominated as Distinguished Undergraduate Student Mentor at Denman Forum, OSU          
  •   2010 – Nominated as Distinguished Undergraduate Student Mentor at Denman Forum, OSU          
  •   2012 – Presidential Award competition for a poster ‘Estrogen and Retinoid Interactions in the Regulation of Adipose Triglyceride Lipase at the 94th Annual Endocrinology Meeting, Houston, TX          
  •   2012 – Semi-Finalist for Outstanding Women in Technology Award, Tech Columbus, Columbus, Ohio

Selected Grants

  • 7/2011 - 7/2012. 3D scaffold platform for identification of polyfunctional nutriceuticals in the management of obesity in men and women
    • The Ohio State University Food Innovation Center ($25,000)
    • PI: Ziouzenkova, O; Co-I: Yang, S-T, Failla ML, Bomser, J , Lee K
    • Goal: Develop a 3D platform that will address the influence of dietary compounds and their metabolites on multiple pathways in a sex-specific context  
  •  12/2011 - 12/1/2012. Encapsulated engineered cells for obesity treatment.
    • The Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) funded by National Institutes of Health UL1RR025755 (National Center for Research Resources) Industry Partnership Pilot ($50,000)
    • PI: Ziouzenkova, O; Co-I: Sen, C, Lee JL
    • Goal: Utilize implantation of encapsulated thermocytes to reduce visceral adiposity and associated with this tissue insulin resistance and chronic inflammation
  •  9/2012 - 8/2013 The effect of microencapsulated thermocyte-like murine fibroblasts in canine adipose tissue
    • Canine research funds from OSU ($25,112)
    • PI: Chen Gilor; Co-PI Ziouzenkova, O
    • Goal: To test efficacy of obesity treatment with encapsulated thermogenic cells in a dog  
  • 03/2013 – 2/2014. 3D reporter assays for studies of drug/nutrient interaction in cancer patients.
    • Food Innovation Center. ($25,000)
    • PI: Ziouzenkova, O;     Co-I: Benson, DM Jr., Failla, ML, Johnson, J.
    • Goal: Development of a semi-quantitative diagnostic tool for measurement of cumulative inflammatory and oxidative stress in plasma from patients as well as for the identification nutrients synergizing with pharmacological therapies  
  • 07/2013 – 06/2014. Prospective open pilot of low vs. higher dose vitamin D in D-deficient asthmatic children: Does diet predict immune function and asthma symptom response to vitamin D supplementation?            
    • Food Innovation Center. ($50,000)
    • PI: Dr. B. L. Gracious;  Co-I: Drs. Habash, DL, Lesinski, GB, Belury, MA, Hall ,M,  Allen, E, Keim, SA, Ziouzenkova, O.
    • Goal: To gather preliminary feasibility and mechanistic data to support a nutrition-focused clinical translational study, to determine whether and how supplemental vitamin D improves asthma and quality of life in a young vulnerable population  
  • 1/2005 - 12/2008. Endogenous PPAR and RXR Regulation Through Retinoic Acid Precursors
    • American Heart Association. ($259,996)
    • PI: Ziouzenkova, O; Co-I: Kirkland J (Boston University), Duester, J (Burnham Institute, CA)  
    • Goal: To assess whether metabolism of RA precursors generates both an agonist (RA) and an antagonist (Rald) determining RXR and PPAR transcriptional activity 
  • 10/1/2012 -9/31/2013 Independent Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Alogliptin            
    • Takeda Corporation. MSA-NC-AZI-117 ($164,985)
    • PI: Ziouzenkova, O; Co-I: Rajagopalan, S            
    • Goal: Elucidate anti-Inflammatory Effects of Alogliptin  
  • 07/2013 - 6/2015 Identification of anti-inflammatory properties of eggs in adipose tissue            
    • Egg Nutrition Center (USDA). ($115,000)
    • PI: Ziouzenkova, O; Co-I: Failla, M, Schwartz, S
    • Goal: To provide evidence of anti-inflammatory and anti-obesogenic effects of micronutrient-rich egg yolk that can potentially lead to an egg-based product improving the health of 1.7 billion obese patients worldwide and the general population.  
  • 11/2013 – 10/2015 Identifying protein targets for the induction of thermogenesis in visceral fat            
    • Novo Nordisk Company.  Diabetes Innovation Award ($380,000)            
    • PI: Ziouzenkova, O            
    • Goal: To identify thermogenic factor(s) and its downstream targets in adipose tissues

Selected Publications

Research articles

  1. Yasmeen R, Reichert B, Deiuliis J, Yang F, Lynch A, Meyers J, Sharlach M, Shin S, Volz K.S., Green K, Lee K, Alder H, Duester G, Zechner R, Rajagopalan S, Ziouzenkova O. Autocrine Function of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1 (Aldh1) as a Determinant of Diet- and Sex- Specific Differences in Visceral Adiposity. 2013 Diabetes (62):124-136 (IF 8.3) PMCID: PMC3526050
  2. Reichert B, Yasmeen R, Jeyakumar SM, Yang F, Thomou T, Alder H, Duester D, Maiseyeu A, Mihai G, Harrison EH, Rajagopalan S, Kirkland JL, and Ziouzenkova O. Concerted action of aldehyde dehydrogenases influences depot-specific fat formation. Molecular Endocrinology 2011; (25):799-809.PMCID: PMC3082326 (IF: 4.889)
  3. Shen Q, Chitchumroonchokchai C, Thomas, JL, Gushchina LV, DiSilvestro D, Failla ML, Ziouzenkova O. Identification of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of mangostin xanthones in adipocyte reporter assays. 2013 Molecular Nutrition and Food Research (IF 4.3)
  4. Yang F, Zhang X, Maiseyeu A, Mihai G, Yasmeen R, DiSilvestro D, Maurya S.K., Muthu P, Bergdall KV, Duester G, Sen CK, Roy S, Lee LJ, Rajagopalan S, Ziouzenkova O. The prolonged survival of fibroblasts with forced lipid catabolism in visceral fat following encapsulation in alginate-poly-L-lysine, 2012 Biomaterials  (33):5638-5649 PMID: 22575837 (IF 2011: 7.9)


  1. Ziouzenkova O and Plutzky J. P. Retinoid metabolism and Nuclear Receptor Responses: New Insights into coordinated regulation of the PPAR-RXR Complex, FEBS Lett. 2008 582:32-38. (IF: 3.264) (Citation Count: 52)
  2. Jeyakumar SM, Yasmeen R, Reichert B, Ziouzenkova O. Metabolism of vitamin A in white adipose tissue and obesity. In: Sommerburg O, Siems W, and Kraemer K. Carotenoids and Vitamin A in Translational Medicine, 2013 Chapter 2, 23-54
  3. Ziouzenkova O, Harrison EH. Retinoid and lipid metabolism. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jan;1821(1):1-2.
  4. Ziouzenkova, O. "Vitamin A Metabolism: Challenges and Perspectives." Vitamins & Trace Elements. Vol. doi: 10.4172/vte.1000e106 (Jan 2012): 5/1.
  5. Yasmeen R, Jeyakumar SM, Reichert B, Yang F, Ziouzenkova O. The contribution of vitamin A to autocrine regulation of fat depots. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 1821(1):190-7 PMCID: PMC319674317. (IF: 5.084)

Selected Presentations

  •  2008: Speaker, ‘Proteomic studies on retinaldehyde functions in adipose tissue’, Keystone Symposium on Nuclear Receptors:  Orphan Brothers, Whistler, British Columbia, Mar 30 - Apr 4
  •  2009: Speaker, ‘Vitamin A: an evolving role in the regulation of energy homeostasis’, ‘Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany, June 17
  •   2012: Speaker, ‘Vitamin A metabolism: contribution to sexual dimorphism in fat depot formation’, FASEB“Retinoids”, Snowmass, Colorado, June 10-15
  •  2013: Speaker, ‘Vitamin A metabolism and B cells’, Gordon Conference “Carotenoids”, Ventura, California, January 7-14
  •  2013: Speaker ‘Identifying protein targets for the induction of thermogenesis in visceral fat’ Novo Nordisk Great Lakes Science Forum, Chicago, Illinois, April 15-16