Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research

Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research

The human brain analyses nutrient-related and hormonal signals of the body periphery and controls by hunger and saturation induction the energy homeostasis. This central nervous control is complex and until now not fully understood. Research at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research (formerly: Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research) is dedicated to deciphering these most intricate neuro-circuits. The researchers use multimodal and molecular imaging to describe intact but also abnormal metabolic regulation. Once neuronal signaling pathways of the metabolism are completely understood both in healthy people and patients, new molecular therapies for diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity may be developed in the long run.


Gleueler Str. 50
50931 Köln
Phone: +49 221 4726-0
Fax: +49 221 4726-298

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):
IMPRS on Ageing

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Loving the sweet enemy
Foods rich in fats and carbohydrates stimulate the reward system in the brain particularly strongly more
Obesity alters a subpopulation of immune cells, thereby increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes more
Zülch Prize 2016: Forms of cancer in the cerebellum
Award-winning researchers improve the diagnosis of different brain tumours in children and boost treatment success as a result more
High-fat diet starves the brain
Fat decreases glucose levels in the mouse brain more
Fat tissue in energy saving mode
AgRP neurons regulate sugar consumption in hungry mice more
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Genetic predisposition for obesity influences learning behaviour

2017 Tittgemeyer, Marc; Brüning, Jens

Variations in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene are associated with obesity. The same variants of FTO affect dopamine-dependent midbrain responses and learning from negative outcomes in humans. They furthermore modulate the connectivity in a basic reward circuit of meso-striato-prefrontal regions and facilitate neural responses elicited by food cues. These findings provide evidence for FTO-specific differences in both brain structure and function in individuals, thereby contributing to a mechanistic understanding of why FTO is a predisposing factor for obesity.


Regulatory mechanisms of neuronal glucose uptake

2016 Jais, Alexander; Brüning, Jens C.
Medicine Neurosciences

This study demonstrates the complex regulatory mechanisms for the maintenance of physiological glucose transport and identifies vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as critical regulator of glucose transport across the blood-brain barrier. These experiments reveal that transient, high-fat diet-elicited reduction of brain glucose uptake initiates a compensatory increase of VEGF-production and assign obesity-associated macrophage activation a homeostatic role to restore cerebral glucose metabolism, preserve cognitive function and limit neurodegeneration in obesity.


Metabolic disorders: Nutrition during pregnancy affects offspring

2015 Hausen, Anne Christine; Brüning, Jens C.
Genetics Medicine Neurosciences

Obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and associated dieseases are on a constant rise and not only reduce quality of life but also are putting a burden on our society. Large efforts have been put into a better understanding of the homeostatic control mechanisms involved in regulation of body weight and energy homeostasis. It is known that maternal obesity, diabetes and hyperglycemia during pregnancy results in an increased risk for the offspring to develop obesity and diabetes later in life.  By performing studies in mice, scientists can gain insights into the underlying complex mechanisms. 


Genetic predisposition for overweight: Possible interactions of genome and environment

2014 Heß, Martin; Brüning, Jens C.
Genetics Neurosciences

The increase in the prevalence of obesity and the concomitant health problems are putting a burden on our modern society. Lifestyle and genetic predisposition define the individual susceptibility to gain weight. Through identifying the genetic alterations and the subsequent investigation of the affected genes/proteins – including studies in mice – scientists hope to gain insights into the complex interaction of our genome and environment to finally identify the mechanisms that may lead e.g. to weight gain.


New strategies for synthesizing intelligent radiolabeled probes

2013 Neumaier, Bernd;  Zlatopolskiy, Boris D.
Chemistry Medicine
In our research work we focused on novel labeling methods using (3+2) cycloadditions. Our main goal was to synthesize radiofluorinated 1,3-dipoles, which easily react with double and triple bonds. A second aim was to develop a simple method for the preparation of radiolabeled β-lactams. Furthermore 1,2-didehydrobenzene was used in association with the novel 1,3-dipoles to produce 18F-labeled homo- and heterocycles, which are difficult to prepare via conventional procedures. These approaches extend the spectrum of accessible radiolabeled probes and enable access to novel intelligent PET probes. more
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