Profile of the Department

Our department examines the formation and physiological function of brown and white adipocytes. The effects of diet and aging on adipose tissue and their contribution to the development of metabolic and degenerative diseases are analyzed.

Obesity, i.e. pathological overweight, is an important risk factor for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, but also for degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Excess energy is mainly stored in white adipose tissue and leads to obesity. In contrast, brown adipose tissue displays a remarkable potential for the consumption of energy in the form of heat. Recent studies show that brown adipose tissue is also present in human adults.

Metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity are common side effects of old age and can be attributed, among other things, to age-related changes of the adipose tissue depots. With increasing age, the body's ability to form metabolically active brown adipocytes decreases, which causes white adipocytes to accumulate. The resulting disruption of energy metabolism could lead to further weight gain and promotion of obesity, especially in older people. In addition, degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system increasingly arise during aging. Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis (bone loss) occur frequently as a result of the interplay of aging and obesity.


  • Examination of stem cells and the control mechanisms that produce either white or brown fat cells
  • Identification of biomarkers and messenger substances that control the formation and function of brown and white fat cells
  • Research into the mechanisms by which brown or white fat cells contribute to the development of aging-related diseases, such as the metabolic syndrome and degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system