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Research group/lab  |  P.I. Jenny A. Visser, PhD

Metabolism and Reproduction

The Metabolism and Reproduction lab studies sex differences in metabolic dysfunction with the ultimate goal to identify new leads in the treatment of obesity and its comorbidities.

About our research group/lab

Our research

Connecting gonadal function and metabolism

The reproductive system is tightly coupled with energy balance, and abnormalities can lead to pathophysiological conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Our research aims at unraveling the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the reciprocal interactions between gonadal and metabolic function. Our studies focus on the effects of sex steroid hormones and the gonadal growth factor anti-Müllerian hormone in humans and animal models. Studies are performed at genetic, physiological, cellular, and molecular levels.

Hormonal regulation of adipose tissue

Adipose tissue plays a critical role in the development of obesity and its associated metabolic diseases. Studies have shown that there are sex differences in the susceptibility to develop obesity. Our research aims to gain insight in the sex-dependent regulation of white and brown adipose tissue function. Our studies focus on the roles of various hormones using in vitro models, animals models, and humans.

The role of ghrelin and unacylated ghrelin in metabolic diseases

Ghrelin is an acylated gut-derived peptide hormone that, among other functions, regulates growth hormone secretion, increases appetite and suppresses insulin sensitivity. Our group has shown that the unacylated form of ghrelin (UAG) occurs at similar circulating levels as ghrelin, and opposes many of its effects. However, the mechanism of action of UAG is unknown. Our studies aim to determine if UAG is a potential target for the treatment of metabolic syndrome and to elucidate its cellular mechanism of action. Studies are performed using physiological, cellular and molecular approaches.

Genetics of obesity

Obesity is a complex disorder not only influenced by the environment but also genetics. In our Obesity Center CGG (Centrum Gezond Gewicht), patients with underlying genetics causes of obesity are  treated. Our research aims at understanding the effects of identified genetic variants through functional studies using in vitro models. 


Our projects

  • Regulation of Anti-Müllerian hormone in PCOS
  • Role of Anti-Müllerian hormone in PCOS
  • Effect of sex steroids on adipose tissue
  • Functional analysis of genetic mutations in obesity
  • Ghrelin and unacylated ghrelin signaling mechanism
  • The role of ghrelin in eating behavior
  • Steroid metabolome in castration resistant prostate cancer
  • The role of DNA damage and metabolic remodeling cross-talk between vascular and adipose tissue ageing

Key Publications


  • Calcium and Bone group, Dept of Internal Medicine (Dr. B. van der Eerden)
  • Division of Vascular Medicine and Pharmacology, Dept of Internal Medicine (Dr. A. Roks)
  • Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Prof. J. Laven, Dr. Y. Louwers)
  • Obesity Center CGG (Centrum Gezond Gewicht) (Prof. E. van Rossum, Dr. E. van den Akker)
  • Reprogen consortium
  • Genetics of PCOS consortium
  • Prof. G. Mishra, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Reproductive factors and risk cardiometabolic and respiratory conditions. 
  • Prof. W. Arlt, Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. PCOS and steroid hormones
  • Dr. K. Walters, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. Animal models of PCOS
  • Prof. O. Meijer/ Dr. J. Kroon. Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden. Nuclear receptors and metabolic diseases
  • Dr. M. van Haelst. Amsterdam VuMC, Amsterdam. Genetic obesity

Funding & Grants

  • Royalties AMH assay licensing
  • Health Holland/Erasmus MC-TKI-LSH grant

Our team

Scientific Staff

PhD students

  • Kasiphak Kaikaew
  • Loes Moolhuijsen
  • Karina Prins
  • Gido Snaterse

Technical staff

  • Martin Huisman
  • Bas Karels
  • Anke McLuskey
  • Rosinda Mies
  • Cobie Steenbergen

Project Leaders


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