Translational Cell Metabolism in the Schéele Group

The Scheele Group investigates human brown fat and its secreted factors known as batokines. This knowledge will help to identify novel candidate drug targets against metabolic dysregulation including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Research focus

Brown fat has only been known to exist in adult humans during the last decade and represents a so far unexplored source of potential drug targets. Brown fat activation in adult humans increases clearance of blood glucose and free fatty acids, insulin sensitivity and metabolic rate.

The Scheele Group studies human brown fat from single cell identity to whole body physiology and are interested in factors secreted from brown fat, known as batokines. We were among the pioneers in characterizing supraclavicular brown fat of adult humans and have established a method to isolate brown fat precursor cells from this region. These cells maintain their brown fat identity when cultured and differentiated in vitro, and thus represent a valuable in vitro model for studies of human brown fat cell metabolism and physiology. Our objective is to investigate the cross-talk of activated human brown fat with brown fat precursor cells and dormant brown fat as well as with other organs involved in metabolism, with the overarching aim to identify novel candidate drug targets against metabolic dysregulation including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Main findings

“Proteomics-based comparative mapping of the human brown and white adipocyte secretome reveals EPDR1 as a novel batokine”
Published as preprint in BioRxiv in 2018 this study is mapping the secretomes of human brown and white adipocytes and identifies several novel batokines, including EPDR1, exclusively identified in brown adipocytes cell media and necessary for brown fat differentiation.

“A classical brown adipose tissue mRNA signature partly overlaps with brite in the supraclavicular region of adult humans.”
Published in Cell Metabolism in 2013, this study was among the first to provide a molecular characterization of brown fat in adult humans, and furthermore demonstrated that brown fat progenitor cells could be isolated and maintain their brown fat identity when differentiated in vitro.

“Asymmetric perirenal brown adipose dormancy in adult humans is defined by local sympathetic activity”
Published as preprint in BioRxiv in 2018 this study identifies dormant brown fat in adult humans, present in regions of diminished sympathetic activity and characterized by unilocularity and reduced expression of mitochondrial respiratory genes, but with an intact pool of brown fat progenitor cells.

Staff of the Schéele Group

Group leader: Associate Professor Camilla Schéele

The Schéele Group