“Inter-organ crosstalk - learn the words to understand the language”

Prof. dr. Kenneth Verboven

Adipose tissue
Extracellular vesicles
Skeletal muscle


Tel.: +32 (0)11 26 93 15



Research focus

In human physiology, there is a clear need for coordinated activity of different cell types and organs in order to adapt to metabolic adaptation to energy demands. The knowledge of interorgan crosstalk mediators and mechanisms that act in an autocrine, paracrine, or endocrine manner to regulate homeostasis has grown substantially. Beyond hormones and metabolites that travel from organ to organ via the circulation, new avenues of interorgan communication have been discovered, in which extracellular vesicles recently became known as vehicles of interorgan communication mediators in health and disease states. Understanding the molecular details of interorgan crosstalk is imperative to develop novel therapeutics that address maladaptive interorgan dependencies and secondary (organ) complications.

In terms of internal and metabolic diseases, many of these molecules are involved in (patho)physiological interorgan communication, such as from adipose tissue to various organs including brain, skeletal muscle, liver, bone, gut, vasculature, … .

Our team aims to identify novel pathways involved in interorgan crosstalk, to further unravel the pathophysiology of obesity-related insulin resistance, as well as the influence of exercise (either acute or chronic) on these pathways. Our main focus lies with patients with obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer, mainly investigating the role of adipose tissue- and skeletal muscle-based communication.

Core techniques

In vitro models: adipocyte (isolation and culturing of mature & stem cells) and myocytes (isolation and culturing of stem cells)

Human biopsy methods for adipose tissue & skeletal muscle

Blood analyses and in situ assessment of lipid metabolism (microdialysis)

Metabolic assessments: oral glucose tolerance test, indirect calorimetry

Exercise capacity testing in metabolic diseases ((sub)maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing)

Body composition assessments: DEXA scan, ultrasound

Histology & tissue analysis

Team members

Lisa Mennens, PhD student

Britt van de Haterd, PhD student

Kia Puustinen, PhD student

Antonios Chalimourdas, PhD student

The team has structural collaborations with Maastricht University (the Netherlands).

Key publications

Verboven K, Hansen D. Critical reappraisal of the role and importance of exercise intervention in the treatment of obesity in adults. Sports Medicine. 2021 Mar;51(3):379-389

Franssen W, Massa G, Eijnde BO, Dendale P, Hansen D*, Verboven K*. Aberrant Mechanical Efficiency during Exercise Relates to Metabolic Health and Exercise Intolerance in Adolescents with Obesity. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2021, 18(20), 10578.

Wouters K, Kusters Y, Bijnen M, Wetzels S, Zhang X, Linssen P, Gaens K, Houben A, Joris P, Plat J, Kooi E, van der Kallen C, Mensink R, Verboven K, Jocken J, Hansen D, Blaak E, Ehlers F, Wieten L, Greve J, Rensen S, Stehouwer C, Schalkwijk C. NK cells in human visceral adipose tissue contribute to obesity-associated insulin resistance through low-grade inflammation. Clinical and Translational Medicine. 2020; 10(6):e192.

Verboven K, Stinkens R, Hansen D, Wens I, Frederix I, Eijnde BO, Jocken JW, Goossens GH, Blaak EE. Coordinated regulation of adipose tissue adrenergic- and non-adrenergic-mediated lipolysis during exercise in lean and obese individuals: the effect of exercise training. Clinical Science 2018; 132(15):1685-98.

Verboven K, Wouters K, Gaens K, Hansen D, Bijnen M, Wetzels S, Stehouwer C, Goossens G, Schalkwijk C, Blaak E, Jocken J. Abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adipocyte size, lipolysis and inflammation relate to insulin resistance in male obese humans. Scientific Reports 2018, 8:4677. 

Verboven K, Jocken JWE, Hansen D, Blaak EE. Natriuretic peptides in control of body weight and insulin sensitivity. Obesity Reviews 2017; 18(11):1243-1259.

Wouters K, Gaens K, Bijnen M, Verboven K, Jocken J, Wetzels S, Wijnands E, Hansen D, van Greevenbroek M, Duijvestijn A, Biessen E, Blaak E, Stehouwer C, Schalkwijk C. Circulating classical monocytes are associated with CD11c+ macrophages in human visceral adipose tissue. Scientific Reports 2017; 7:42665.

Verboven K, Hansen D, Moro C, Eijnde BO, Hoebers N, Knol J, Bouckaert W, Dams A, Blaak EE, Jocken JWE. Attenuated atrial natriuretic peptide-mediated lipolysis in subcutaneous adipocytes of obese type 2 diabetic men. Clinical Science 2016; 130(13):1105-14.

Science communication

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