Aims: Obesity is associated with insulin resistance, liver steatosis and low-grade inflammation. The role of oestrogen in sex differences in the above co-morbidities is not fully understood. Our aim was to assess the role oestrogen has in modulating adipocyte size, adipose tissue oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance and liver steatosis.
Methods: To determine the role oestrogen has in the above co-morbidities related to obesity, we randomized C57BL/6J mice into four groups (15 mice per group): (i) male, (ii) non-ovariectomized female (novx), (iii) ovariectomized female (ovx) and (iv) ovariectomized female mice supplemented with 17β estradiol (ovx-E). Mice received either a low-fat (LF) or a high-fat (HF) diet for 10 weeks. Outcomes measured were bodyweight, body fat, adipocyte diameter, adipose tissue lipolysis markers, adipose tissue oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance and liver steatosis.
Results: Male and ovx-female mice consuming the HF diet had a higher propensity of gaining weight, specifically in the form of body fat. Oestrogen protected female mice from adipocyte hypertrophy and from developing adipose tissue oxidative stress and inflammation. Moreover, novx-female and ovx-female+E mice had higher phosphorylated levels of protein kinase A and hormone sensitive lipase, markers associated with lipolysis. Additionally, male and ovx female mice had a higher propensity of developing liver steatosis and insulin resistance. In contrast, oestrogen protected female mice from developing liver steatosis and from becoming insulin resistant.
Conclusion: We show that oestrogen protects female mice from adipocyte hypertrophy and adipose tissue oxidative stress and inflammation. Furthermore, oestrogen prevented female mice from developing liver steatosis and from becoming insulin resistant.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.