Mice with deletion of the mitochondrial glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene exhibit a thrifty phenotype: effect of gender

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004 Jul;287(1):R147-56. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00103.2004. Epub 2004 Mar 18.


To define the role of mitochondrial glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (mGPD; EC in energy balance and intermediary metabolism, we studied transgenic mice not expressing mGPD (mGPD-/-). These mice had approximately 14% lower blood glucose; approximately 50% higher serum glycerol; approximately 80% higher serum triglycerides; and at thermoneutrality, their energy expenditure (Qo(2)) was 15% lower than in wild-type (WT) mice. Glycerol-3-phosphate levels and lactate-to-pyruvate ratios were threefold elevated in muscle, but not in liver, of mGPD-/- mice. WT and mGPD-/- mice were then challenged with a high-fat diet, fasting, or food restriction. The high-fat diet caused more weight gain and adiposity in mGPD-/- than in WT female mice, without the genotype differentially affecting Qo(2) or energy intake. After a 30-h fast, WT female lost 60% more weight than mGPD-/- mice but these latter became more hypothermic. When energy intake was restricted to 50-70% of the ad libitum intake for 10 days, mGPD-/- female mice lost less weight than WT controls, but they had lower Qo(2) and body temperature. WT and mGPD-/- male mice did not differ significantly in their responses to these challenges. These results show that the lack of mGPD causes significant alterations of intermediary metabolism, which are more pronounced in muscle than liver and lead to a thrifty phenotype that is more marked in females than males. Lower T(4)-to-T(3) conversion in mGPD-/- females and a greater reliance of normal females on mGPD to respond to high-fat diets make the lack of the enzyme more consequential in the female gender.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Glycerolphosphate Dehydrogenase / deficiency
  • Glycerolphosphate Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondria / enzymology*
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Thermogenesis / genetics
  • Thermogenesis / physiology
  • Triglycerides / biosynthesis


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Triglycerides
  • Glycerolphosphate Dehydrogenase