Research Groups

Portrait Andreas Birkenfeld

Andreas Birkenfeld

Regulation of Energy Homeostasis

Previous and Current Research

Energy homeostasis is a major determinant of health- and life span. While caloric excess leads to insulin resistance, cardiometabolic disease and premature death, caloric restriction prevents and cures these traits. Our group investigates novel regulators of energy, glucose and lipid homeostasis and their impact on insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity and aging.

Role of INDY (I’m Not Dead Yet) and other SLC Transporters in Metabolic Disease

Reduced expression of the Indy (= I’m Not Dead Yet) gene, which encodes a cell surface transporter for tri- and dicarboxylic acids, prolongs life and health span in a manner akin to caloric restriction in D. melanogaster and C. elegans. In order to test if Indy also effects mammalian metabolism, we generated the Indy knock out mouse (mINDY-/-). Similar to D. melanogaster, mINDY-/- mice mimic a state of caloric restriction with increased mitochondrial biogenesis, hepatic lipid oxidation, and insulin sensitivity. In addition, mINDY-/- mice are protected from the adiposity and insulin resistance that evolves with high-fat feeding and aging.

With our group, we address the question if deletion of the mammalian Indy gene (mIndy) also promotes longevity in mammals and we look for molecular mechanisms explaining the effects of mIndy on metabolism, aging, and life span. We will establish the effects of mIndy in distinct metabolically active tissues in vivo and pinpoint transcriptional regulators of mIndy. In a translational approach, the effect of mIndy on human metabolism and the influence of mINDY’s substrates on mammalian metabolism will be determined. It is our aim to identify new physiological concepts connecting metabolic regulation with aging and longevity and to implement them into innovative pharmacological approaches for the treatment of obesity, insulin resistance, and senescence.

Selected Publications

Loeffelholz C, Lieske S, Neuschäfer-Rube F, Willmes DM, Raschzok N, Sauer IM, König J, Fromm M, Horn P, Chatzigeorgiou A, Pathe-Neuschäfer-Rube A, Jordan J, Pfeiffer AFH, Mingrone G, Bornstein SR, Stroehle P, Wunderlich FT, Helfand SL, Bernier M, deCabo R, Shulman GI, Chavakis T, Püschel GP, Birkenfeld AL
The Human Longevity Gene Homolog INDY and Interleukin-6 Interact in Hepatic Lipid Metabolism.
Hepatology, epub (2017)

Schlueter N, de Sterke A, Willmes DM, Spranger J, Jordan J, Birkenfeld AL
Metabolic Actions of Natriuretic Peptides and Therapeutic Potential in the Metabolic Syndrome.
Pharmacol Ther 144:12–27 (2014)

Birkenfeld AL, Shulman GI
Hepatic Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Hepatic Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
Hepatology 59(2):713-23 (2014)

Birkenfeld AL, Lee HY, Guebre-Egziabher F, Alves TC, Jurczak MJ, Jornayvaz FR, Zhang D, Hsiao JJ, Martin-Montalvo A, Fischer-Rosinsky A, Spranger J, Pfeiffer AF, Jordan J, Carmean CM, Knauf F, Irusta PM, De Cabo R, Helfand SL, Samuel VT, Shulman GI
Deletion of the Mammalian INDY-Homologue in Mice Mimics Aspects of Dietary Restriction and Protects Against Diet and Age-Induced Adiposity and Insulin Resistance.
Cell Metab 14:185–195 (2011)

Pajvani UB, Shawber CJ, Samuel VT, Birkenfeld AL, Shulman GI, Kitajewski J, Accili D
Inhibition of Notch Signaling Ameliorates Obesity Induced Insulin Resistance Through FoxO1-Dependent Manner.
Nat Med 17:961–967 (2011)


since 2015
Transcampus Professor of Diabetes, King’s College London, UK

since 2014
W2-Professor of Metabolic Vascular Medicine, Director, Clinical Study Center of Metabolic Vascular Medicine, University Clinic Dresden

W2-Professor of Pathophysiology and Therapy of Diabetes, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Charité-Berlin

Group leader and Principal Investigator, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Charité-Berlin

DFG-Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Endocrinology and Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, USA


University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus
Technische Universität Dresden
Fetscherstraße 74
01307 Dresden