Adipose tissue inflammation and reduced insulin sensitivity in ovariectomized mice occurs in the absence of increased adiposity

Endocrinology. 2012 Sep;153(9):4266-77. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-2006. Epub 2012 Jul 9.


Menopause promotes central obesity, adipose tissue (AT) inflammation, and insulin resistance (IR). Both obesity and the loss of estrogen can activate innate and adaptive immune cells (macrophages, T cells). The respective impacts of weight gain and loss of ovarian hormones on AT inflammation and IR are poorly understood. Here we determined the temporal kinetics of fat accretion, AT inflammation, and IR over a 26-wk time course in ovariectomized (OVX) mice, a model of menopause. OVX and sham-operated (SHM) C57BL6 mice were fed a normal chow diet. Weight, body composition (magnetic resonance imaging), total and regional adiposity, activity, food intake, AT crown-like structures, biohumoral measures, and insulin sensitivity (insulin tolerance testing and homeostatic model assessment) were determined at wk 12, 20, and 26. Macrophages and T cells from perigonadal AT were immunophenotyped by fluorescence-associated cell sorting, and perigonadal adipose tissue (PGAT) gene expression was quantified by quantitative PCR. OVX mice (≈ 31 g) became fatter than SHM mice (≈ 26 g) by wk 12, but mice were equally insulin sensitive. PGAT of OVX mice contained more T cells but expressed higher levels of M2-MΦ (arginase-1) and T cell-regulatory (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4) genes. At wk 20, both OVX and SHM mice weighed approximately 35 g and were equally insulin sensitive with comparable amounts of PGAT and total body fat. OVX mice became less insulin sensitive than SHM mice by wk 26, coincident with the down-regulation of PGAT arginase-1 (-20-fold) and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (2-fold) and up-regulation of M1/Th1 genes CD11c (+2-fold), IL12p40 (+2-fold), and interferon-γ (+78-fold). Ovarian hormone loss in mice induces PGAT inflammation and IR by mechanisms that can be uncoupled from OVX-induced obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / immunology*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin Resistance / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Ovariectomy*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction