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Adipose tissue development in children

​Normal adipose tissue development is critical for maintaining a healthy metabolic state. An excess accumulation of adipose tissue mass in childhood or adolescence results in obesity. This is often associated with pathological metabolic and cardiovascular alterations. In this project, we aim to identify and characterize regulators of adipose tissue development and obesity. For this, we apply a translational approach combining in vitro and in vivo studies with the analyses of adipose tissue samples of lean and obese children (Leipzig Adipose Childhood Cohort).

Alterations in Adipose Tissue Biology and Function with Development of Obesity (Leipzig Adipose Tissue Biopsy Childhood Cohort)

We aim to address which alterations occur in adipose tissue biology and function during normal development and during progression of obesity in children. Adipose tissue samples are frequently obtained from children undergoing surgery in the Division of Paediatric Surgery as well as the Division of Paediatric Orthopaedics (Leipzig Adipose Tissue Childhood Cohort, NCT02208141). Analyzing these samples, we assess alterations in gene expression, adipose tissue composition, metabolic function and the capacity of adipose progenitor cells to differentiate and proliferate. We found that first alterations in adipose tissue biology occur in early childhood (Landgraf K, 2015). We apply the Seahorse technology to assess mitochondrial function of adipocytes under different conditions. Furthermore, we characterize adipose tissue inflammation and the presence of brown adipose tissue (Rockstroh D, 2016).

We further identify regulators of normal and disturbed adipose tissue function and subsequently perform functional characterization by looking at their role for adipocyte differentiation in vitro (cell lines and primary predadipocytes) and in vivo by using the zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model for obesity and associated diseases (Landgraf K, 2017).

We are particularly interested in molecular mechanisms mediating adipocyte dysfunction in obesity and the development of metabolic and cardiovascular comorbidities. In this regard, the role of microRNAs (Rockstroh 2016) and adipocytokines (Schwartze 2016) in regard to adipocyte development and function.


  • Schwartze JT, Landgraf K, Spielau U, Rockstroh D, Löffler D, Kratzsch J, Kiess W, Körner A: Adipocyte C1QTNF5 expression is BMI-dependently related to early adipose tissue dysfunction and systemic CTRP5 serum levels in obese children. Int J Obes (Lond) 41:955-963 (2017) Link
  • Landgraf K, Schuster S, Meusel A, Garten A, Riemer T, Schleinitz D, Kiess W, Körner A: Short-term overfeeding of zebrafish with normal or high-fat diet as a model for the development of metabolically healthy versus unhealthy obesity. BMC physiology 17:4 (2017) Link
  • Schreier M, Schwartze JT, Landgraf K, Scheuermann K, Erbs S, Herberth G, Pospisilik JA, Kratzsch J, Kiess W, Körner A: Osteopontin is BMI-independently Related to Early Endothelial Dysfunction in Children. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 101:4161-4169 (2016) Link
  • Rockstroh D, Löffler D, Kiess W, Landgraf K, Körner A: Regulation of human adipogenesis by miR125b-5p. Adipocyte 5:283-297 (2016) Link
  • Landgraf K, Rockstroh D, Wagner IV, Weise S, Tauscher R, Schwartze JT, Löffler D, Bühligen U, Wojan M, Till H, Kratzsch J, Kiess W, Blüher M, Körner A: Evidence of early alterations in adipose tissue biology and function and its association with obesity-related inflammation and insulin resistance in children. Diabetes 64:1249-1261 (2015) Link
  • Rockstroh D, Landgraf K, Wagner IV, Gesing J, Tauscher R, Lakowa N, Kiess W, Bühligen U, Wojan M, Till H, Blüher M, Körner A: Direct evidence of brown adipocytes in different fat depots in children. PLoS One 10:e0117841 (2015) Link

Involved scientists

  • ​Antje Körner
  • Kathrin Landgraf
  • Antje Berthold
  • Roy Tauscher
  • Robert Stein
  • Elena Kempf
  • Martha Hanschkow
  • Sarah Abdul Majeed


  • ​DFG/SFB project
  • IFB projects: Epigenetic control of excess adipose tissue accumulation in children, Characterization of adipose progenitor cell abundance and function in healthy and obesity-related adipose tissue accumulation in children
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