Linking temperature to metabolism – the role of brown adipose tissue in humans

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation has been shown to correct hyperlipidaemia and improves insulin resistance in mice. BAT has been shown to be also present in healthy, adult humans and can be activated by cold exposure in vivo. Since BAT activation and obesity are inversely correlated, this project aims at characterizing the interaction between BAT activation and human glucose and lipid metabolism in vivo to identify potential strategies for the treatment of metabolic disorder as type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity.

Experimental protocols to control body surface temperature in human participants have been established in our groups during previous studies (Metabolism 2011;60: 430-437). Moreover, our groups have long-standing experience in evaluating neuroendocrine control of human glucose homeostasis (JCEM 2007;92:3044-3051) as well as autonomous nervous system activity (JCEM 2010;95:1998-2002) by gold standard techniques. We furthermore have extended expertise in the assessment of lipoprotein metabolism in vivo and in vitro (Nat Med 2011;17:200-205).

This project will provide thesis projects for one medical student and one doctoral researcher (experimental psychologist or biologist). All in vivo experiments of project 06 will be mainly supervised in Lübeck by S.M.S. and F.S. in cooperation with M.M., while M.M. and J.H. will in Hamburg supervise in vivo and in vitro analysis of lipoprotein metabolism. 


Iwen, A. K., Backhaus, J., Cassens, M., Waltl, M., Hedesan, O. C., Merkel, M., Heeren, J., Sina, C., Rademacher, L., Windjäger, A., Haug, A. R., Kiefer, F. W., Lehnert, H., and Schmid, S. M.: Cold-induced brown adipose tissue activity alters plasma fatty acids and improves glucose metabolism in men.J Clin Endocrinol Metab, vol. 102(11), , 2017, doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-01250