Central versus peripheral impact of estradiol on the impaired glucose metabolism in ovariectomized mice on a high-fat diet

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Aug 15;303(4):E445-56. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00638.2011. Epub 2012 May 1.


Age-related loss of ovarian function promotes adiposity and insulin resistance in women. Estrogen (E(2)) directly enhances insulin sensitivity and suppresses lipogenesis in peripheral tissues. Recently, the central actions of E(2) in the regulation of energy homeostasis are becoming clearer; however, the functional relevance and degree of contribution of the central vs. peripheral actions of E(2) are currently unknown. Therefore, we prepared and analyzed four groups of mice. 1) CONTROL: sham-operated mice fed a regular diet, 2) OVX-HF: ovariectomized (OVX) mice fed a 60% high-fat diet (HF), 3) E2-SC: OVX-HF mice subcutaneously treated with E(2), and 4) E2-ICV: OVX-HF mice treated with E(2) intracerebroventricularly. OVX-HF mice showed increased body weight with both visceral and subcutaneous fat volume enlargement, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. Both E2-SC and E2-ICV equally ameliorated these abnormalities. Although the size of adipocytes and number of CD11c-positive macrophages in perigonadal fat in OVX-HF were reduced by both E(2) treatments, peripherally administered E(2) decreased the expression of TNFα, lipoprotein lipase, and fatty acid synthase in the white adipose tissue (WAT) of OVX-HF. In contrast, centrally administered E(2) increased hormone-sensitive lipase in WAT, decreased the hepatic expression of gluconeogenic enzymes, and elevated core body temperature and energy expenditure with marked upregulation of uncoupling proteins in the brown adipose tissue. These results suggest that central and peripheral actions of E(2) regulate insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism via different mechanisms, and their coordinated effects may be important to prevent the development of obesity and insulin resistance in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White / anatomy & histology
  • Adipose Tissue, White / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gluconeogenesis / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Intolerance / drug therapy
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Organ Size
  • Sterol Esterase / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Estradiol
  • Sterol Esterase
  • Glucose