Denise Ney

Position title: Professor, Nutritional Sciences


Phone: College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

Lab Webpage:
Ney Lab

Research Summary:

Nutritional management of phenylketonuria and gastrointestinal physiology

Research Detail:

Our research group has conducted studies in subjects with phenylketonuria (PKU) that establishes the acceptability and safety of foods made with the whey protein, glycomacropeptide, in the nutritional management PKU. PKU is a genetic disorder caused by deficiency of hepatic phenylalanine hydroxylase. This enzyme converts the essential amino acid phenylalanine to tyrosine.


To prevent brain damage and cognitive impairment individuals with PKU must follow a lifelong, low-phenylalanine diet that is restricted in natural foods. Glycomacropeptide is uniquely suited to the PKU diet as it contains minimal phenylalanine.  Skeletal fragility is a poorly understood complication of PKU.  Preclinical and clinical studies are being conducted to assess the impact of dietary protein source on bone health in PKU.


Check out the story of Dr. Ney’s research featured in GROW 2016 to use GMP to enhance the nutritional management of PKU and improve women’s health. This research has resulted in two patents held by WARF.

Video: Cheese, Glycomacropeptide, and PKU: A Translational Research Story (30 min)

Gastrointestinal Physiology
A recent finding demonstrates that GMP is a prebiotic with anti-inflammatory properties in mice.  Subsequent studies are addressing the impact of diet-inducing changes on the intestinal microbiota with respect to inflammatory bowel disease such as colitis, obesity, and bone health.