Exercise, metabolism and muscle in Xlab

Research focus

We focus on Human Integrative Physiology in Health and Disease. We make every effort to understand the metabolic and muscle remodelling behind exercise training, physical activity and diseases- from the whole body across organs, tissues, and cells to the intracellular environment.

We specifically study:

  • Metabolic, cardiovascular and muscle regulations 
  • The whole body: across regions and organs, tissue and cells
  • The morphology, integrity and function of organelles and muscle fibres
  • The molecular signalling pathways and metabolic processes
  • The intracellular compartmentalization as regulators of metabolic pathways
  • The proteins (expression, location, functionality and abundance) in a systems biology approach.

We use:

  • State of the art techniques in metabolic, muscle & cardiovascular research, as well as biochemical, immunochemical, biophysical and molecular biology analyses.

 We focus on:

  • Human physiology/pathophysiology and carry out advanced phenotyping in healthy subjects and patients, young and old
  • Developing new methods to use high resolution light microscopy as a research tool in human physiology.

We collaborate with:

  • Clinical research groups to study human liver, heart, skeletal muscle and/or visceral adipose tissue obtained in clinical trials
  • Research groups that utilize animal experimental models, including horses, pigs, rats and mice
  • Life Sciences industry.





























Our research focuses on five main areas:

  • Training and physical activity
  • Mitochondrial physiology
  • Compartmentalized Metabolism
  • Muscle physiology
  • Physical activity and Health: Exercise is Medicine

Training and physical activity

This research area overall focuses on training, fat oxidation, metabolic fitness and biological age:

  • The effect of muscle lipids and particularly the bioactive lipid species diacylglycerol and ceramide influence on insulin sensitivity in humans.
  • The effect of training and physical activity/inactivity on fat metabolism, metabolic fitness and flexibility.
  • The mechanisms regulating muscle adaptation to training and/or inactivity and the effects of age and sex.
  • Lifestyle intervention and maintenance of positive lifestyle changes.
  • The effects of extreme long term endurance exercise in man and the influence of age.
  • The application and measurement biological age in the lab and in real world.

If you would like more information, please contact Jørn Wulff Helge, jhelge@sund.ku.dk.

Mitochondrial physiology

Within this research area, we perform high quality measures of the mitochondrial functionality. Our primary measures are respiratory analysis, measures of free radicals production and of the inner mitochondrial membrane potential. Furthermore, we measure several different mitochondrial related enzymes, proteins and gene expressions.

The lab holds equipment that enables us to investigate the mitochondrial function in several different types of tissues (skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle, adipose and hepatic tissue).

We focus on regulatory mechanisms of oxygen transport and utilization in humans at rest and during exercise in health and in various pathological states, and the adaptations to exercise training, diet intervention and environment.


  • Oroboros 2k, Innsbruck Austria (measures of oxygen consumption, membrane potential, ROS production)
  • Seahorse, Boston USA (measures of oxygen consumption and pH)
  • SAFAS, Monaco (flour spectrophotometer for measures of mitochondrial free radical production and mitochondrial membrane potential).

If you would like more information about the research or the equipment, please contact Steen Larsen stelar@sund.ku.dk.

Compartmentalized Metabolism

The focus of this research area is investigation of the role of intracellular compartmentalization of cellular processes on their regulation. We have described several novel regulatory mechanisms by which cells regulate metabolic pathways through the compartmentalization of substrates, enzymes and signaling molecules e.g.:

  • Gathering of glycogen related enzymes on a spherical structure formed in cells with critically low levels of glycogen to increase re-synthesis efficiency (Prats et al. 2006 and 2009),
  • Insulin stimulation signaling travels through the transverse tubuli membrane towards the inner regions of muscle fibers (Lauritzen et al. 2006)
  • Hormone Sensitive Lipase needs to translocate to the lipid droplets surface in order to utilize skeletal muscle triacylglycerides (Prats et al 2006).

Recently, using high resolution confocal microscopy, we have reported severe morphological alterations in the quality of skeletal muscle lipid droplets and mitochondrial networks in subjects with morbid obesity, alterations that are reversed with surgery-induced weight loss and linked to improvements in insulin sensitivity ( Kristensen et al 2018).

Research focus

  • Lipid droplets coating by PLINs and morphological integrity
  • Mitochondrial networks structural organization and dynamics. Link to organelle function
  • Glycogen storage quality and role of intracellular compartmentalization in the regulation of glycogen metabolism
  • Microscopy – super resolution structured illumination microscopy to investigate intracellular structure of compartments and their interaction
  • Carnitine transporter OCTN2, regulation by insulin and effects of severe mutations on whole body health

If you would like more information, please contact Clara Prats, cprats@sund.ku.dk.

Muscle physiology

Our research focuses on:

  • Understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms causing acquired and genetic muscle disorders (eg congenital myopathies, muscular dystrophies, ageing syndromes)
  • Testing exercise as a countermeasure
  • Providing sufficient knowledge to identify drug targets and to design novel therapeutic interventions in preclinical animal models.

Our laboratory uses human and animal muscle samples, and techniques ranging from single-molecule biophysics to muscle cell physiology and from X-ray diffraction to high-resolution confocal/super-resolution microscopy

If you would like more information, please contact Julien Ochala, julien.ochala@sund.ku.dk

Physical activity and Health: Exercise is Medicine

In this line of research we study cardiovascular and metabolic adaptations to physical activity and inactivity, sport and physical training in healthy and diseased (e.g. type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome), young and old people.

We focus on cross-sectional and longitudinal human studies, using advanced physiological techniques, including methods for:

  • Blood and tissue (muscle and adipose tissue) sampling.
  • Body composition (weight, height, DXA scanning, Bio-impedance).
  • Cardio-respiratory fitness (V̇O2max).
  • Resting Metabolic Rate, substrate utilisation, maximal fat oxidation.
  • Muscle strength and power (handgrip dynamometer, Kin-Con (isometric-, isokinetic and-isotonic), Nottingham Power-rig).
  • Functional tests (6 min walk test, Chair-Stand-Test etc.).
  • Blood flow (strain gauge plethysmography, Ultrasound Doppler).
  • Arterio-venous catheterization (forearm, leg).
  • Eu-/iso- glycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp, hyperglycemic clamp, oral glucose or lipid tolerance test, meal test.





















































































Xlab is responsible for multiple events and courses. You can read about upcoming events and courses as well as past events and courses.

Upcoming Events and Courses

Currently no upcoming events

Past Events and Courses















































Alle studieretninger – emner egnet til både BA og MA specialer.

Vi beskæftiger os med fysisk aktivitet og inaktivitet indflydelse betydning for organismens funktioner. Nedenfor ses en liste af emner/stikord som du måske kan genkende dig selv i?

  • Kardiovaskulær, metabolisk og morfologisk adaptation til fysisk træning og inaktivitet
  • Fysisk træning i forebyggelsen og behandlingen af Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin sekretion og insulin resistens
  • Mitokondrie fysiologi – hvordan omsættes næringsstofferne til energi?
  • Intramuskulært fedt hos atleter og insulin resistente personer. Hvordan hænger det sammen?
  • FatMax – evnen til af forbruge fedt som brændstof under fysisk aktivitet
  • Mitokondrielle netværk i muskler hos patienter med diabetes og/eller fedme. Belyst ved avanceret mikroskopi
  • Carnitine transport regulation by insulin
  • Fysisk træning af ældre mennesker mhp. at forebygge tab af muskelmasse- og styrke
  • Sarcopeni – betydning, forebyggelse og behandling
  • Body-Age – er det rent fup?
  • Livsstilsintervention - fastholdelse af gode livsstilsvaner

+ Mange andre muligheder, gerne tilpasset dine interesser inden for fysisk aktivitet og sundhed.

Er du interesseret, så skriv til:

Professor Flemming Dela,fdela@sund.ku.dk
Professor Jørn Wulff Helge,jhelge@sund.ku.dk
Lektor Steen Larsen,stelar@sund.ku.dk
Lektor Clara Prats,cprats@sund.ku.dk

Specifikke projekter:



















































Xlab secretary

Jacqueline van Hall

Phone: +45 3532 7423

Senior researchers in Xlab

Name Title Phone E-mail
Flemming Dela Professor +45 353-27425 Email
Jørn Wulff Helge Professor +45 287-57506 Email
Clara Prats Associate professor +45 353-30706 Email
Steen Larsen Associate professor +45 211-51924 Email
Julien Ochala Associate professor Email

Group members

Name Title Phone E-mail
Alexander Kamp Sonne PhD Student   E-mail
Arthur Ingersen PhD Student   E-mail
Chris Lewis Postdoc   E-mail
Elise Julie Melhedegaard Thomsen PhD Student +4529459686 E-mail
Emilie Ahmt Petersen Master Student   E-mail
Ida Blom Master-Student   E-mail
Jacqueline van Hall Research Group Secretary +4535327423 E-mail
Jenni Marjaana Laitila Guest Researcher   E-mail
Jens Frey Halling Postdoc +4535334063 E-mail
Jeppe Bach Biomedical Laboratory Scientist +4535327576 E-mail
Karina Louise Skov Husted PhD Fellow +4528127945 E-mail
Linn Gillberg Postdoc   E-mail
Maria Hansen PhD Student   E-mail
Mikkel Thunestvedt Hansen PhD Fellow +4535334422 E-mail
Rannvá Dahl PhD Student   E-mail
Regitze Kraunsøe Biomedical Laboratory Scientist +4535330599 E-mail
Ronni Eg Sahl PhD Student   E-mail
Sofie Greve Vestergaard PhD Student   E-mail
Thomas Nyegaard Beck Biomedical Laboratory Scientist   E-mail
Tue Rømer Academic Research Staff +4535335565 E-mail

Xlab is part of

Logo mito

Logo Lifestat