Epigenetics and metabolism

Department of Internal Medicine I

Group Members

Henriette Kirchner (Group leader)
Christin Krause (PhD student)
Cathleen Geißler (PhD student)
Anne-Marie Neumann (PhD student)
Martina Grohs (Technician)

Research Interests

Our group studies the association between epigenetic DNA methylation and the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes. As the liver is a key gluco-regulatory organ we mainly focus on alterations in hepatic DNA-methylation and its link to metabolic diseases. Using biopsies from obese and/or diabetic patients and mouse models of obesity we aim to identify what triggers modification of DNA methylation, the mechanisms that consequently alter gene expression, and therapies to reverse pathological DNA methylation to the physiological state. We study DNA methylation using genome-wide methylation arrays (Illumina Infinium) and pyrosequencing.


  • Oliver Mann, Department of General and Abdominal Surgery, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf Germany
  • Randy Seeley, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
  • Paul Pfluger, Helmholtz Diatebes Center & German Diabetes Center (DZD), Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany
  • Carolin Höfig, Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany


  1. Altered DNA methylation of glycolytic and lipogenic genes in liver from obese and type 2 diabetic patients. Henriette Kirchner, Indranil Sinha, Hui Gao, Maxwell A. Ruby, Milena Schönke, Jessica M. Lindvall, Romain Barrès, Anna Krook, Erik Näslund, Karin Dahlman-Wright, Juleen R. Zierath. Molecular Metabolism 2016(5). 171e183 dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2015.12.004
  2. Mouse-human experimental epigenetic analysis unmasks dietary targets and genetic liability for diabetic phenotypes. Multhaup ML, Seldin MM, Jaffe AE, Lei X, Kirchner H, Mondal P, Li Y, Rodriguez V, Drong A, Hussain M, Lindgren C, McCarthy M, Näslund E, Zierath JR, Wong GW, Feinberg AP. Cell Metab. 2015 Jan 6;21(1):138-49. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.12.014. PMID: 25565211
  3. Altered promoter methylation of PDK4, IL1 B, IL6, and TNF after Roux-en Y gastric bypass. Kirchner H, Nylen C, Laber S, Barrès R, Yan J, Krook A, Zierath JR, Näslund E. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2014 Jul-Aug;10(4):671-8. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2013.12.019. Epub 2014 Jan 28. PMID: 24837562
  4. Epigenetic flexibility in metabolic regulation: disease cause and prevention? Kirchner H, Osler ME, Krook A, Zierath JR. Trends Cell Biol. 2013 May;23(5):203-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2012.11.008. Epub 2012 Dec 29. Review. PMID: 23277089
  5. GOAT links dietary lipids with the endocrine control of energy balance. Kirchner H, Gutierrez JA, Solenberg PJ, Pfluger PT, Czyzyk TA, Willency JA, Schürmann A, Joost HG, Jandacek RJ, Hale JE, Heiman ML, Tschöp MH. Nat Med. 2009 Jul;15(7):741-5. doi: 10.1038/nm.1997. Epub 2009 Jun 5. PMID: 19503064