LubSat | School of Food Science and Nutrition | University of Leeds

LubSat is a European Research Council (Starting Grant) funded research project for 5 years (2017-22) with a value of €1.5 million to understand the role of oral lubricity on satiety. In particular, our quantitative multi-scale understanding of lubrication of the human salivary film when exposed to stimuli from food biomolecules, which in turn can have significant appetite suppression consequences, remains poorly understood.

The key limitation to accurately measure oral lubrication is the lack of availability of tribo-contact surfaces that effectively emulate the oral surfaces (i.e. the soft, slippery mucous-coated human tongue and the upper palate). The project will apply classical theories from Physics and tools from Mechanical Engineering to design novel soft lubricious surfaces emulating our saliva-coated human tongue.

This will be then used to create fundamental understanding of how food molecules lubricate the oral surfaces and the implications this has on the satisfaction of the food and perceived satiety. Follow our page to receive updates on project outcomes!!


Obesity is a serious form of malnutrition that is known to have substantial morbidity and mortality consequences. Hence, to directly promote weight management, there is an immense need to design satiety-enhancing foods that terminate appetite for longer periods after consumption.

Although the concept of “satiety cascade” was proposed nearly 20 years ago, the changing dynamics of food properties in the oral mucosa remains the greatest source of uncertainty in food design. The ground-breaking nature of the project will be to discover how food-mediated alteration of salivary lubricity will result in enhanced satiety perception for longer periods.

This will bring the paradigm shift in thinking that is needed to underpin the creation of the next generation of weight management foods and allow the development of coordinated public health strategies to tackle obesity.

Publications and outputs

2020 Liamas E, Connell SD, Ramakrishna S, Sarkar A. (2020). Probing the frictional properties of soft materials at the nanoscale. Nanoscale, 12, pp. 2292-2308

Stribitcaia E, Krop EM, Lewin R, Holmes M, Sarkar A. (2020). Tribology and rheology of bead-layered hydrogels: Influence of bead size on sensory perception. Food Hydrocolloids., 104, Art. No. 105692

Xu F, Liamas E, Bryant M, Adedeji AF, Andablo-Reyes E, Castronovo M, Ettelaie R, Charpentier TVJ, Sarkar A. (2020). A self‐assembled binary protein model explains high‐performance salivary lubrication from macro to nanoscale. Advanced Materials Interfaces, 7, Art no. 1901549

Xu F; Laguna L; Sarkar A (2019) Ageing related changes in quantity and quality of saliva: Where do we stand in our understanding?. Journal of Texture Studies, 50, pp. 27-35

Hopkins M, Boesch C, Lansdall M, Mullen C, Mighell A, Pavitt S, Sarkar A. (2020). Salivary lubricity (ex vivo) enhances upon moderate exercise: A pilot study. Archives of Oral Biology, 116, Art No. 104743 2019

Andablo-Reyes E, Yerani D, Fu M, Liamas E, Connell S, Torres O, Sarkar A. (2019). Microgels as viscosity modifiers influence lubrication performance of continuum. Soft Matter, 15, pp. 9614-9624

Sarkar A, Xu F, Lee S. (2019). Human saliva and model saliva at bulk to adsorbed phases – similarities and differences. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, 272, Art no. 102034

Sarkar A; Krop E (2019) Marrying oral tribology to sensory perception: a systematic review Current Opinion in Food Science, 27, pp. 64-73

Sarkar A; Andablo-Reyes E; Bryant M; Dowson D; Neville A (2019) Lubrication of soft oral surfaces Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science, 39, pp. 61-75 2018

Torres O; Andablo-Reyes E; Murray BS; Sarkar A (2018) Emulsion microgel particles as high-performance bio-Lubricants. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 10 (32), pp. 26893-26905 2017

Sarkar A, Kanti F, Gulotta A, Murray BS, Zhang S (2017) Aqueous lubrication, structure and rheological properties of whey protein microgel particles Langmuir 33 14699–14708

Project website