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Antje Körner Group: "Childhood Obesity & Endocrinology"

Research topics

​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).

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Clinical and experimental pediatric endocrinology

Obesity-related adipocyte dysfunction can be manifested already during childhood. Clinically and experimentally, we are examining the consequences of childhood obesity for the endocrine function of adipose tissue and the impact on the children’s development. Furthermore, we investigate gene variants leading to monogenetic obesity.

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Development of childhood obesity and associated metabolic and cardiovascular comorbidities

Alterations of the cardiovascular system and the circadian rhythm are frequent complications seen in obese children and adults. In this context we aim to decipher the communication of adipose tissue and the cardiovascular system as well as the circadian rhythm in obese children and young adults.

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Genetic and epigenetic background of adipose tissue development and early-onset obesity in children

The aim of this project is to identify new functional candidate genes involved human adipogenesis and adipose tissue dysfunction as a cause for early-onset obesity and associated insulin resistance in children.

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Clinical studies and biobanks

​​Overview of all our clinical studies and available biobanks

Normal control pediatric populations

Leipzig school children project:

= representative normal populations
n~3000 total; n~1200 for consented DNA analysis

LIFE Child Health:
= longitudinal childhood population including detailed anthropometric and metabolic phenotyping
n>3500 total (ongoing)
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Obese pediatric populations

Leipzig Obesity Childhood Cohort:
incl. detailed phenotyping and oGTT's n>2200 (incl. follow-ups n>500)

Leipzig Atherobesity Childhood Cohort:
obese children n=100 and lean children n=70
incl. detailed metabolic and cardiovascular phenotyping and MRI scans as well as follow-up data

LIFE Child Obesity:
= longitudinal childhood population incl. detailed metabolic phenotyping
n>340 participants in total (n>680 visits, incl. follow-ups)
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Special populations

Intervention in obese children:
= inpatients, 6 week exercise intervention
n=62 incl. detailed phenotyping

Leipzig Circadian Rhythm Cohort:
= young healthy lean and obese adults incl. frequent serum sampling over 30 h
n=59 incl. detailed metabolic phenotyping

Adipose tissue pediatric biobank:
= adipose tissue samples from lean and obese children incl. consented DNA analysis
n=467 total currently (incl. 395 samples), ongoing study

Pediatric populations for genotyping

n~1000 incl. MetaboChip data:
cohorts contributed to MAGIC and EGG consortia, collaborations and publications
- Metabolic traits (Scott, Nature genet Epub) collaboration
- intrauterine growth (Hokoshi, Nature Epub) collaboration
- available for own analyses

n>2000 incl. targeted (candidate) genetic analyses and GWAS replication:
- FTO (Dina, Nat genet 2007) collaboration
- GWAS (Meyre, Nat genet 2009; Scherag, PLoS genet 2010) collaboration
- TCF7L2 (Körner, JCEM 2007)
- Metabolic traits (Windholz, PLoS One 2011)
- GPR120 (Ichimura, Nature Epub) collaboration

n~3000 incl. ExomeChip data (currently done in collaboration with
Wellcome Trust, UK):
- available for own analyses (in collaboration with WTTC)


n~5000 data sets from according cohorts (ongoing)

n~2750 lean, n~1750 obese (ongoing)

n~2800 incl. consented DNA analysis (ongoing)

n>1800 incl. oGTT's (ongoing)

Group members

​A list of our current and former group members and our MD students you can find here.


​A list of our publications you can find here.

News & announcements

  • 15.05.2019​: Now there is mechanistic evidence - also for humans: breastfeeding is the best to do for the baby. As a pediatrician I am really happy to have contributed to this study by Tamás Röszer demonstrating that lipid species in the breast milk preserve energy burning beige adipocytes and can protect against obesity.
    Here you can find the full article and the abstract video.

    Original publication in J Clin Invest. 2019.

  • 12.02.2019: Dr. Kathrin Landgraf was honored to give a talk at this year's Keystone Symposia Conference "Obesity and Adipose Tissue Biology" in Banff, Alberta, Canada. She presented her work on the obesity susceptibility gene TMEM18 to highly renowned scientists in this field.
  • 28.01.2019: We published a Letter to our data on "Acceleration of BMI in Early Childhood and Risk of Sustained Obesity" recently appearing in New England Journal of Medicine in response to the comments from Harnois-Leblanc et al. and Ichikawa. Please find the letters here.
  • 21.01.2019: Elena Kempf received the Young Scientist Prize 2019Young Scientist Prize 2019 in the category "Obesity" awarded at the Leipzig Research Festival of the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Life Sciences with her work on "Characterization of subcutaneous stromal vascular cells in order to establish new cell models for human adipogenesis".
  • 4.10.2018: Our latest data on the critical age of development of obesity in children are now published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this large population-based longitudinal study, we show that obesity manifests early in life in children and once present has a very likelihood to persist. The most excessive weight gain occurred early - between 2 and 6 years of age - and subsequently continued at a lower but still constantly positive rate which further worsens obesity.

    Find full article including "abstract video" here.
    N Engl J Med 2018; 379:1303-1312; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1803527
    Unsere Ergebnisse zum kritischen Alter der Entwicklung von Übergewicht bei Kindern sind jetzt publiziert im New England Journal of Medicine. In dieser großen, populationsbasierten, longitudinalen Studie zeigen wir, dass Übergewicht sehr zeitig im Leben bei Kindern manifestiert und wenn einmal vorhanden, eine hohe Persistenz zeigt. Die größte exzessive Gewichtszunahme passiert in jungen Jahren im Alter zwischen 2 und 6 Jahren. Auch danach erfolgt eine kontinuierliche weitere Gewichtszunahme, welche das Ausmaß der Adipositas weiter verstärkt.

  • Dr. Jo Ana Schunter will receive this year's Dr. Carl-Zeise-Award of the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig for one of the best theses. As a medical student she had set up, persued and published a study and showing an association of a genetic variation in the FoxD3 gene with vitiligo (an autoimmune disorder of skin depigmentation) and autoimmune thyroid dysfunction.
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  • 8.08.2018: Martha Hanschkow received the "ESPE Early Career Scientific Development Grant" by the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology and works as a visiting scientist in the lab of Dr. Anne Bouloumie in Toulouse, where she works on the characterization of the stromavascular fraction of adipose tissue samples.

Positions available

​Thesis projects / dissertations

Master theses (current available thesis)

Vacant positions

Currently there are vacant positions in the group of Prof. Körner:


Prof. Dr. med. Antje Körner
Center for Pediatric Research Leipzig (CPL)
(Medizinisches Forschungszentrum, Haus C)
Liebigstraße 21
04103 Leipzig

Tel:     +49 341 - 97 26500
Fax:    +49 341 - 97 26069

Liebigstraße 20a, Haus 6
04103 Leipzig
0341 - 97 26000 (Office)
Central Clinic:
0341 - 97 26242
0341 - 97 26009