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Achim Peters, Prof. Dr. (born 1957 in Dortmund) is a German obesity specialist who lives and works in Lübeck. He developed the "Selfish Brain" theory and since 2004 has been leading the clinical research group supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) “Selfish Brain: Brain glucose and Metabolic syndrome".
Up until his school-leaving examinations in 1976 Peters attended the Humboldt Grammar School in Dortmund. In the same year he embarked upon his medical studies at the University of Bochum; later he moved to the Medical University of Luebeck. In 1977 he won the nationwide mathematics competition organized by the STIFTERVERBANDES FÜR DIE DEUTSCHE WISSENSCHAFT (FOUNDATION FOR GERMAN SCIENCE). With this success he received a scholarship from STUDIENSTIFTUNG DES DEUTSCHEN VOLKES (SPONSORSHIP FROM THE GERMAN PEOPLE). In 1983 Peters received both his medical license and his research doctorate (at the Institute for Anatomy in Bochum).
In 1984 Dr. Peters started working at the Clinic for Internal Medicine at the University of Luebeck. Between 1986 and 1989 he was funded by a postdoctoral grant from the DFG at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, where he researched on "The Control Theory with Diabetes Mellitus". In the following years Dr. Peters specialized within Internal Medicine in the fields of Endocrinology and Diabetology. In 1993 he became assistant medical director at the Clinic for Interior Medicine at the University of Luebeck.
In 1996 he received his habilitation on the Control Theory of Diabetes Mellitus, and his authorization to teach Internal Medicine. For this work he received the Silvia King Award from the German Diabetes Association. In 2000 he became a specially appointed professor at the University of Luebeck. In 2002 he was promoted to assistant medical director in the field of Endocrinology and Diabetology. In 2004 Peters was appointed head of the DFG Clinical Research Group "Selfish Brain: Brain glucose and Metabolic Syndrome". In the following year he became a faculty member of the “Faculty of 1000 Biology ". In 2006 he was appointed as University Professor of medicine/endocrinology and diabetology.
Prof. Dr. Achim Peters is married, has two children and lives on a farm near Luebeck.
Research strongpoint: "Selfish Brain" theory and obesity
In 1998 Achim Peters formulated the basic model of the “Selfish Brain" Theory as well as its axioms. His explanation of the Selfish Brain" theory (2004) was based on approx. 5000 published data records from classical endocrinology-diabetology and the modern neurosciences, but argued from both a mathematical standpoint using differential equations, and from a system theoretical standpoint. This represented a completely new methodological approach, even a paradigm shift for obesity research and diabetology.
The "Selfish Brain" theory states that the human brain during allocation of the organism’s energy supply covers its own comparably high needs with the highest priority. The brain behaves selfishly in this respect. In the cerebral hemispheres, the integrating organ of the entire central nervous system, the theory introduces a feedback loop of an “Energy on Demand" system that keeps the ATP concentration in the nerve cells of the brain at an appropriate level. This goal is achieved in healthy individuals by allocating (diverting) energy from the body.
The "Selfish Brain" theory represents a further development of already existing theories on the organization of the energy supply within the human organism. Blood sugar and fat deposition feedback systems constitute a complex system for regulating the intake of nutrients which is controlled by a hypothalamic center. The "Energy on demand” system for energy supply to the brain is seen as a supraordinate instance of this setup, which exerts control over the organs that regulate the blood sugar and fat feedback loops.
The origin of obesity (severe and diseased form of overweight) is explained by the "Selfish Brain” theory as an allocation defect. Instead of requesting energy from the body, energy is added by consuming foodstuffs. This results in an energy accumulation in the supply chain, a chain that leads from the environment through the body up to the brain as the end consumer. The possible causes underlying this are localized in impairments of the amygdala, the hippocampus or the hypothalamus. i.e. brain areas that control blood glucose and fat feedback loops and which for various reasons can not correctly process the signals from the cerebral hemispheres for controlling the energy supply of the brain.
The "Selfish Brain" theory has been reinforced in central aspects by the DFG supported Clinical Research Group "Selfish Brain: brain glucose and metabolic syndrome" using experiments carried out on both healthy and diseased test subjects.
"Efforts to treat and prevent these public health disorders can only be successful if the overriding importance of the brain is considered in the future." (Overweight, diabetes and lipid metabolism disorders in "Welt am Sonntag", No. 10, 5 March 2006, pp 77)
"The copious amounts of advertising that we are exposed to can already result in the brain forgetting how it should request energy. We can assume that there are dozens of ways that obesity can arise via this route." (The Causes of Overweight in "Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag", Nr. 11, 12 March 2006, pp. 69.)
- 1977 National winner of the nationwide mathematics competition
- 1997 Silvia King Award from the German Diabetes Association
- Schweiger U, Greggersen W, Rudolf S, Pusch M, Menzel T, Winn S, Hassfurth J, Fassbinder E, Kahl KG, Oltmanns KM, Hohagen F, Peters A 2008 Disturbed glucose disposal in patients with major depression; application of the glucose clamp technique. Psychosom Med 70:170-176
- Oltmanns KM, Melchert UH, Scholand-Engler HG, Schultes B, Schweiger U, Peters A 2008 Divergent effects of hyper- and hypoglycemia on circulating vascular endothelial growth factor in humans. Metabolism 57:90-94
- Oltmanns KM, Melchert UH, Scholand-Engler HG, Howitz MC, Schultes B, Schweiger U, Hohagen F, Born J, Peters A, Pellerin L 2008 Differential energetic response of brain vs. skeletal muscle upon glycemic variations in healthy humans. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 294:R12-R16
- Peters A, Conrad M, Hubold C, Schweiger U, Fischer B, Fehm HL 2007 The principle of homeostasis in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system: new insight from positive feedback. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 293:R83-R98
- Jauch-Chara K, Hallschmid M, Gais S, Oltmanns KM, Peters A, Born J, Schultes B 2007 Awakening and counterregulatory response to hypoglycemia during early and late sleep. Diabetes 56:1938-1942
- Ludwig AK, Weiss JM, Tauchert S, Dietze T, Rudolf S, Diedrich K, Peters A, Oltmanns KM 2007 Influence of hypo- and hyperglycaemia on plasma leptin concentrations in healthy women and in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Hum Reprod 22:1555-1561
- Jauch-Chara K, Hallschmid M, Schmid SM, Oltmanns KM, Peters A, Born J, Schultes B 2007 Plasma glucagon decreases during night-time sleep in Type 1 diabetic patients and healthy control subjects. Diabet Med 24:684-687
- Schultes B, Jauch-Chara K, Gais S, Hallschmid M, Reiprich E, Kern W, Oltmanns KM, Peters A, Fehm HL, Born J 2007 Defective awakening response to nocturnal hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus. PLoS Med 4:e69
- Pais I, Hallschmid M, Jauch-Chara K, Schmid SM, Oltmanns KM, Peters A, Born J, Schultes B 2007 Mood and cognitive functions during acute euglycaemia and mild hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetic patients. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 115:42-46
- Peters A, Pellerin L, Dallman MF, Oltmanns KM, Schweiger U, Born J, Fehm HL 2007 Causes of obesity: looking beyond the hypothalamus. Prog Neurobiol 81:61-88
- Peters A, Lehnert H 2007 [Metabolic syndrome. Origin within the central nervous system?]. Internist (Berl) 48:134-143
- Peters A 2006 The energy request of inflammation. Endocrinology 147:4550-4552
- Fehm HL, Kern W, Peters A 2006 The selfish brain: competition for energy resources. Prog Brain Res 153:129-140
- Oltmanns KM, Gehring H, Rudolf S, Schultes B, Schweiger U, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2006 Persistent suppression of resting energy expenditure after acute hypoxia. Metabolism 55:669-675
- Hubold C, Oltmanns KM, Schultes B, Jelkmann W, Born J, Fehm HL, Schweiger U, Peters A 2006 High plasma VEGF relates to low carbohydrate intake in patients with type 2 diabetes. Int J Obes 30:1356-1361
- Fehm HL, Peters A 2007 [Role of the hippocampus in obesity and metabolic syndrome]. Nervenarzt 78:584-585
- Oltmanns KM, Dodt B, Schultes B, Raspe HH, Schweiger U, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2006 Cortisol correlates with metabolic disturbances in a population study of type 2 diabetic patients. Eur J Endocrinol 154:325-331
- Schultes B, Schmid S, Peters A, Born J, Fehm HL 2005 Sleep loss and the development of diabetes: a review of current evidence. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 113:563-567
- Schultes B, Peters A, Hallschmid M, Benedict C, Merl V, Oltmanns KM, Born J, Fehm HL, Kern W 2005 Modulation of food intake by glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 28:2884-2889
- Bahlmann L, Oltmanns KM, Peters A, Poeling J, Schwemmer U, Heringlake M, Klaus S 2005 Metabolic stress during hypoglycaemia clamp assessed by microdialysis. Minerva Anestesiol 71:711-716
- Oltmanns KM, Gehring H, Rudolf S, Schultes B, Hackenberg C, Schweiger U, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2006 Acute hypoxia decreases plasma VEGF concentration in healthy humans. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 290:E434-E439
- Merl V, Peters A, Oltmanns KM, Kern W, Born J, Fehm HL, Schultes B 2005 Serum adiponectin concentrations during a 72-hour fast in over- and normal-weight humans. Int J Obes 29:998-1001
- Oltmanns KM, Fehm HL, Peters A 2005 Chronic fentanyl application induces adrenocortical insufficiency. J Intern Med 257:478-480
- Kern W, Peters A, Born J, Fehm HL, Schultes B 2005 Changes in blood pressure and plasma catecholamine levels during prolonged hyperinsulinemia. Metabolism 54:391-396
- Schultes B, Peters A, Kern W, Gais S, Oltmanns KM, Fehm HL, Born J 2005 Processing of food stimuli is selectively enhanced during insulin-induced hypoglycemia in healthy men. Psychoneuroendocrinology 30:496-504
- Oltmanns KM, Peters A, Kern W, Fehm HL, Born J, Schultes B 2005 Preserved inhibitory effect of recurrent hypoglycaemia on the male gonadotrophic axis. Clin Endocrinol 62:217-222
- Fehm L, Kern W, Peters A 2004 [Body weight regulation through the central nervous system. The development of a pathogenetically based adiposity therapy]. Med Klin 99:674-679
- Merl V, Peters A, Oltmanns KM, Kern W, Hubold C, Hallschmid M, Born J, Fehm HL, Schultes B 2004 Preserved circadian rhythm of serum insulin concentration at low plasma glucose during fasting in lean and overweight humans. Metabolism 53:1449-1453
- Schultes B, Kern W, Oltmanns K, Peters A, Gais S, Fehm HL, Born J 2005 Differential adaptation of neurocognitive brain functions to recurrent hypoglycemia in healthy men. Psychoneuroendocrinology 30:149-161
- Merl V, Kern W, Peters A, Oltmanns KM, Gais S, Born J, Fehm HL, Schultes B 2004 Differences between nighttime and daytime hypoglycemia counterregulation in healthy humans. Metabolism 53:894-898
- Fehm HL, Born J, Peters A 2004 Glucocorticoids and melanocortins in the regulation of body weight in humans. Horm Metab Res 36:360-364
- Peters A, Schweiger U, Pellerin L, Hubold C, Oltmanns KM, Conrad M, Schultes B, Born J, Fehm HL 2004 The selfish brain: competition for energy resources. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 28:143-180
- Oltmanns KM, Gehring H, Rudolf S, Schultes B, Rook S, Schweiger U, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2004 Hypoxia causes glucose intolerance in humans. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 169:1231-1237
- Oltmanns KM, Deininger E, Wellhoener P, Schultes B, Kern W, Marx E, Dominiak P, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2003 Influence of captopril on symptomatic and hormonal responses to hypoglycaemia in humans. Br J Clin Pharmacol 55:347-353
- Schultes B, Oltmanns KM, Kern W, Fehm HL, Born J, Peters A 2003 Modulation of hunger by plasma glucose and metformin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 88:1133-1141
- Gais S, Born J, Peters A, Schultes B, Heindl B, Fehm HL, Werner K 2003 Hypoglycemia counterregulation during sleep. Sleep 26:55-59
- Schultes B, Oltmanns KM, Kern W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2002 Acute and prolonged effects of insulin-induced hypoglycemia on the pituitary-thyroid axis in humans. Metabolism 51:1370-1374
- Dodt B, Peters A, Heon-Klin V, Matthis C, Raspe A, Raspe H 2002 [Rehabilitation score for patients with type 2 Diabetes mellitus: An instrument to standardize assessment of the need for rehabilitation]. Rehabilitation 41:237-248
- Peters A, Schweiger U, Fruhwald-Schultes B, Born J, Fehm HL 2002 The neuroendocrine control of glucose allocation. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 110:199-211
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Oltmanns KM, Kern W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2002 The effect of experimentally induced insulin resistance on the leptin response to hyperinsulinaemia. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 26:510-516
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Oltmanns KM, Toschek B, Sopke S, Kern W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2002 Short-term treatment with metformin decreases serum leptin concentration without affecting body weight and body fat content in normal-weight healthy men. Metabolism 51:531-536
- Dantz D, Bewersdorf J, Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Jelkmann W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2002 Vascular endothelial growth factor: a novel endocrine defensive response to hypoglycemia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 87:835-840
- Schutt M, Lorch H, Kruger S, Klingenberg RD, Peters A, Klein HH 2001 [Recurrent hypoglycemia caused by malignant insulinoma: chemoembolization as a therapeutic option]. Med Klin 96:632-636
- Deininger E, Oltmanns KM, Wellhoener P, Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Heuer B, Dominiak P, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2001 Losartan attenuates symptomatic and hormonal responses to hypoglycemia in humans. Clin Pharmacol Ther 70:362-369
- Oltmanns KM, Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2001 Hypoglycemia, but not insulin, acutely decreases LH and T secretion in men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 86:4913-4919
- Kern W, Peters A, Fruehwald-Schultes B, Deininger E, Born J, Fehm HL 2001 Improving influence of insulin on cognitive functions in humans. Neuroendocrinology 74:270-280
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Oltmanns KM, Sopke S, Toschek B, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2001 Metformin does not adversely affect hormonal and symptomatic responses to recurrent hypoglycemia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 86:4187-4192
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2001 Hyperinsulinemia causes activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in humans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 25 Suppl 1:S38-S40
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Born J, Kern W, Peters A, Fehm HL 2000 Adaptation of cognitive function to hypoglycemia in healthy men. Diabetes Care 23:1059-1066
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2000 Comparison of the inhibitory effect of insulin and hypoglycemia on insulin secretion in humans. Metabolism 49:950-953
- Peters A, Ehlers M, Blank B, Exler D, Falk C, Kohlmann T, Fruehwald-Schultes B, Wellhoener P, Kerner W, Fehm HL 2000 Excess triiodothyronine as a risk factor of coronary events. Arch Intern Med 160:1993-1999
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Dantz D, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2000 Preserved hypothermic response to hypoglycemia after antecedent hypoglycemia. Metabolism 49:794-798
- Wellhoener P, Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Dantz D, Kerner W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 2000 Glucose metabolism rather than insulin is a main determinant of leptin secretion in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 85:1267-1271
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Beyer J, Forst T, Pfutzner A, Peters A 1999 Elevated serum leptin concentrations in type 2 diabetic patients with microalbuminuria and macroalbuminuria. Metabolism 48:1290-1293
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Bong W, Wellhoener P, Kerner W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 1999 Supraphysiological hyperinsulinemia acutely increases hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal secretary activity in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 84:3041-3046
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Peters A, Kern W, Beyer J, Pfutzner A 1999 Serum leptin is associated with serum uric acid concentrations in humans. Metabolism 48:677-680
- Fruehwald-Schultes B, Kern W, Deininger E, Wellhoener P, Kerner W, Born J, Fehm HL, Peters A 1999 Protective effect of insulin against hypoglycemia-associated counterregulatory failure. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 84:1551-1557
- Batge B, Langsteger W, Bos I, Peters A 1998 [Pseudohyperthyroxinemia in endemic sprue—reversibility with a gluten-free diet]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 123:1269-1273
- Peters A, Rohloff D, Kohlmann T, Renner F, Jantschek G, Kerner W, Fehm HL 1998 Fetal hemoglobin in starvation ketosis of young women. Blood 91:691-694
- Bilingual website on the “Selfish Brain” theory with information for scientists, journalists and other interested individuals: www.selfish-brain.net
- Peters A, Schweiger U, Pellerin L, et al. (April 2004). "The selfish brain: competition for energy resources". Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 28 (2): 143–80. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2004.03.002. PMID 15172762.
- Biography of the "Member of 1000 Biology" Achim Peters