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The Chair of Molecular Nutritional Medicine is dedicated towards the study of energy balance regulation, thermogenesis, and adipose tissue biology. To address our research questions we study the integrative physiology of energy metabolism from the systemic to the cellular and mitochondrial level. Adipose tissues form a highly heterogeneous and plastic organ with essential impact on the regulation of energy flux. Fat cells (adipocytes) not only represent the major energy depots of the body but also secrete hormones (adipokines) regulating hunger and satiety in the brain and metabolic fuel partitioning in peripheral high metabolic rate organs. Moreover, adipocytes acquire contrasting metabolic properties: white adipocytes are specialized in fat storage, while brown adipocytes dissipate food energy as heat. A novel type of brown-like adipocyte, known as beige or brite (brown-in-white), can be found in white adipose tissues.

Adult humans have metabolically active brown / brite adipocytes, but the developmental origin and physiological function of these cells remains elusive. The abundance and metabolic activity of these cells decreases with age and with the progression of metabolic disease (obesity, diabetes, cachexia). Recruitment and activation of brown / brite adipocytes in humans is associated with beneficial metabolic effects. Genes, epigenetics, nutrition and environment impact the abundance of brown and brite adipocytes.

Within the framework of ZIEL our interdisciplinary research revealed large individual variation in the amount and activity of brown fat between subjects. We now aim to identify the causes and consequences of high brown fat mass and activity in humans. On the mechanistic level, we investigate the nutritional regulation and the endocrine / paracrine signals triggering recruitment and activation of human brown and brite adipocytes. On the physiological level we study the function of thermogenic human adipocytes for food intake and energy expenditure. This will elucidate the role of heterogeneity and plasticity of the adipose organ in the etiology of metabolic diseases.

Gerngroß C, Schretter J, Klingenspor M, Schwaiger M, Fromme T. Active brown fat during 18FDG-PET/CT imaging defines a patient group with characteristic traits and an increased probability of brown fat redetection. J Nucl Med. 2017 Jan 19, in press.

Kless C, Rink N, Rozman J, Klingenspor M. Proximate causes for diet-induced obesity in laboratory mice: a case study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Feb 1, in press

Kübeck R, Bonet-Ripoll C, Hoffmann C, Walker A, Müller VM, Schüppel VL, Lagkouvardos I, Scholz B, Engel KH, Daniel H, Schmitt-Kopplin P, Haller D, Clavel T, Klingenspor M. Dietary fat and gut microbiota interactions determine diet-induced obesity in mice. Mol Metab. 2016 Oct 13; 5(12):1162-1174.

Picture: Allan Richard Tobis

Prof. Dr. Martin Klingenspor

Technical University of Munich
Chair for Molecular Nutritional Medicine
TUM School of Life Siences

Else-Kröner-Fresenius Center for Nutritional Medicine


E-Mail: mk[at]tum.de