Metabolic Chambers Inaugurated at HI-MAG - New Research Opportunities for Analyzing Human Energy Metabolism

At the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research (HI-MAG) in Leipzig, two metabolic chambers for humans have been constructed with the objective of determining the influence of obesity and other metabolic diseases on energy metabolism.

Inauguration of the metabolic chambers. From left to right: Prof. Matthias Blüher (HI-MAG), Prof. Michael Stumvoll (Universiy Hospital Leipzig), Dr. Andreas Handschuh (SMWK), Prof. Matthias Tschöp (Helmholtz Munich), Dr. Michael Frieser (Helmholtz Munich), Thomas Romes (BMBF), Prof. Eva Inés Obergfell (University of Leipzig), Dr. Robert Jacob (Universiy Hospital Leipzig), Prof. Christoph Josten (Universiy Hospital Leipzig). Helmholtz Munich | ©Unrau Fotografie

ogether with Deputy-Director General Thomas Romes at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Science State Secretary Dr. Andreas Handschuh from the Saxonian Ministry of Science, Culture and Tourism (SMWK), the two Managing Directors of Helmholtz Munich, Prof Matthias Tschöp and Dr Michael Frieser, as well as the scientific and administrative management of the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig and the University of Leipzig Medical Center, the metabolic chambers were officially inaugurated on June 11th in the outpatient study clinic of HI-MAG. Numerous guests from science and politics were able to gain a first impression and insight into the chambers and found out about the planned clinical studies at the opening ceremony.

How do the metabolic chambers work?
Metabolic chambers are rooms that can be used to measure the energy turnover and metabolism of test subjects in clinical studies. These chambers permit the precise determination of an individual's metabolic rate. Therefore, they facilitate more effective research into disease mechanisms and may facilitate the development of customized treatment options in the future.

Indirect calorimetry is used to determine energy consumption during various phases of the day and activity as well as the predominantly metabolized substrate. This process entails determining the subject's oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production within a specified timeframe by continuously measuring the fresh air supplied and the air within the chamber. A measurement can be conducted over a period of approximately one hour to several days, as the chambers have been designed to provide a comfortable environment, including sanitary facilities. The special feature of the Leipzig chambers is that they are specially designed for test subjects with obesity. The equipment is designed to accommodate individuals with a maximum weight of 250 kg, allowing for the consideration of individual needs and the exploration of a range of research topics that are unique to Germany. The objective is to gain insights into metabolic disorders that are specifically associated with this disease.    

Metabolic Chamber / Helmholtz Munich | ©Unrau Fotografie

‘The new metabolic chambers significantly expand our existing examination methods for determining the resting energy metabolism and thus open up completely new research approaches,’ says Matthias Blüher, the director of HI-MAG.

Prof Matthias Tschöp, CEO of Helmholtz Munich, adds: ‘The metabolic chambers at HI-MAG are a huge step forward in the fight against the obesity epidemic. We can now precisely analyze the human energy metabolism and develop even more precise therapies."

Advancing international cooperation
Despite their distinctive characteristics, the chambers in Leipzig should not be regarded as a singular solution. Rather, networking at a national and international level should be conducted through collaboration. ‘With the establishment of the metabolic chambers here in Leipzig, we also see enormous potential to open up new opportunities for cooperation in the characterization of human metabolic processes, not only in Germany, but also across Europe’ says Thomas Romes from the BMBF. A dynamic exchange of experience and knowledge, standardized conditions and multicenter studies represent a crucial foundation for high-quality research, which HI-MAG also pushes forward in this field. 

HI-MAG was founded in 2018 as a cooperation between Helmholtz Munich, the Faculty of Medicine at Leipzig University and University of Leipzig Medical Center. The institute has set itself the goal of combining basic and clinical research, thereby transferring scientific findings from the laboratory to clinical treatment. "The inauguration of the metabolic chambers marks another milestone in this collaboration. Especially in the field of excellent translational research, we see the HI-MAG together with its cooperation partners, the University of Leipzig and Leipzig University Hospital, in a leading role in metabolic medicine,' said State Secretary for Science Dr. Handschuh. Through the planned clinical studies in the metabolic chambers, the HI-MAG will make a significant contribution to improving the prevention and treatment of obesity and other metabolic diseases.

"Would you like to take part in a HI-MAG study? Then register in our volunteer database!" Further information under this link Probandendatenbank des Helmholtz-Instituts für Metabolismus-, Adipositas- und Gefäßerkrankungen (HI-MAG) und der Universitätsmedizin Leipzig (UML) (German only)