Liverpool Obesity Research Network (LORN)

Techniques, Essays and Protocols

Within LORN a large number of methodologies are employed to understand the processes underpining energy regulation.  The following techniques/facilities are currently available from Liverpool Obesity Research Network (LORN) members.

In Vivo Assays

A full range of licensed techniques for the analysis of feeding behaviour and its neurochemical/physiological correlates are available, in normal models or dietary or genetic models of obesity (including knockouts). Each paradigm can be used in free-feeding or after fasting.

  • Observational analysis (including the behavioural satiety sequence)
  • Food and fluid consumption
  • Meal pattern analysis
  • Taste preference/aversion
  • Macronutrient selection
  • In vivo microdialysis
  • Acute/chronic systemic drug administration (i.p., s.c., oral, i.v.)
  • Intracranial cannulation (intracerebral, icv)
  • Osmotic minipumps
  • Carcass analysis (including DEXAscan)
  • Euglycaemic and hyperglycaemic clamps
  • Glucose tolerance testing

We also have a broad array of general behavioural pharmacology techniques to examine the behavioural/motivational specificity of drug treatments, e.g.:

  • Drug discrimination
  • Plus maze
  • Place-preference conditioning
  • Activity measures
  • Operant analyses
  • Social interaction

Molecular Assays

  • RNA extraction
  • Real-time PCR
  • Northern Blotting
  • Western Blotting
  • Primary cell culture
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • In vitro cell transfection

Plasma Assays

  • Colorimetric
  • RIA
  • (e.g. leptin, adiponectin, insulin, glucose, FFA, triglycerides, etc)


  • Electrophysiology
  • Laser capture MD
  • Functional assays for UCP activity
  • DEXA scanning for body composition
  • Retrograde tracing
  • Immunohistochemistry (fluorescent and confocal microscopy are available)
  • Chromatography/mass spectrometry for protein and lipid molecules

Preclinical models

We have dietary induced obesity models including the cafeteria diet model, and single energy density diet models (i.e. high fat or high carbohydrate diets).  We also have drug induced obesity models including a validated model of Olanzapine induced hyperphagia and weight gain. 

Human Appetite and weight control

Universal Eating Monitor (UEM)

To monitor food consumption by continuous measures of weight of food using concealed balances. Intake measures are paired with automated tracking of subjective hunger, palatability, fullness, satiety, etc using computerised visual analogue scales.  The UEM equipment is available at both the University and the University Hospitial Aintree (Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine) sites.

Social Eating Laboratory

Observational analysis of eating behaviour in individual or group settings fitted with a one way mirror, cameras and video editing and analysis equipment.

Special Diets

A purpose built kitchen enables the preparation of test foods of varying palatability, macronutrient content, or with the inclusion of dietary supplements (nutriceuticals). 

Psychophysical Measurements

To measure changes in sensory or hedonic evaluation of foods and fluids, such as the effects of drug manipulations on taste thresholds or palatability ratings of taste / flavour modalities. 

Clinical Trials

Matching facilities (UEM, calorimetry) are available at the University Hospital Aintree for drug trials involving healthy volunteers or obese patient populations where invasive techniques are required (e.g., blood collection, catheterisation). Special test diets are prepared in the Kissileff Lab, and Kissileff personnel manage day-to-day psychological testing.  

Weight control trials

Can be undertaken or coordinated at the Kissileff Lab to allow detailed psychological assessment of the mode of action of treatments on eating and appetite.  

Biological Samples

Venous bloods, saliva and cheek swabs can be taken within the laboratory.  These can be prepared, stored and analysed on site.  Bloods can be analysed for a variety of factors (e.g. leptin, adiponectin, insulin, glucose, FFA, triglycerides, etc).   Studies which require catheterisation can be preformed at Aintree.

Furhter information on the laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviour (Kissileff)

Clinical Trials and Studies at Aintree

Professor John Wilding and colleagues specialise in investigative medicine and clinical trials in diabetes and obesity, with extensive experience in phase 2 and phase 3 clinical studies. The group has worked on the development of many novel treatments for diabetes and obesity that act both peripherally and centrally. 

Facilities include nutritional assessment, indirect calorimetry, and other forms of metabolic and physiological assessment. 

In collaboration with the Kissileff Laboratory, behaviour and psychological assessment is available including the Universal Eating Monitor (UEM).