Paradoxical resistance to high-fat diet-induced obesity and altered macrophage polarization in mineralocorticoid receptor-overexpressing mice

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jan 1;306(1):E75-90. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00323.2013. Epub 2013 Nov 12.


The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) exerts proadipogenic and antithermogenic effects in vitro, yet its in vivo metabolic impact remains elusive. Wild type (WT) and transgenic (Tg) mice overexpressing human MR were subjected to standard chow (SC) or high-fat diet (HFD) for 16 wk. Tg mice had a lower body weight gain than WT animals and exhibited a relative resistance to HFD-induced obesity. This was associated with a decrease in fat mass, an increased population of smaller adipocytes, and an improved glucose tolerance compared with WT animals. Quantitative RT-PCR studies revealed decreased expression of PPARγ2, a master adipogenic gene, and of glucocorticoid receptor and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1, consistent with an impaired local glucocorticoid signaling in adipose tissues (AT). This paradoxical resistance to HFD-induced obesity was not related to an adipogenesis defect since differentiation capacity of Tg preadipocytes isolated from stroma-vascular fractions was unaltered, suggesting that other nonadipocyte factors might compromise AT development. Although AT macrophage infiltration was not different between genotypes, Tg mice exhibited a distinct macrophage polarization, as revealed by FACS analysis and CD11c/CD206 expression studies. We further demonstrated that Tg macrophage-conditioned medium partially impaired preadipocyte differentiation. Therefore, we propose that modification of M1/M2 polarization of hMR-overexpressing macrophages could account in part for the metabolic phenotype of Tg mice. Collectively, our results provide evidence that MR exerts a pivotal immunometabolic role by controlling adipocyte differentiation processes directly but also indirectly through macrophage polarization regulation. Our findings should be taken into account for the pharmacological treatment of metabolic disorders.

Keywords: adipocyte; energy homeostasis; glucocorticoid signaling; immunometabolism; mineralocorticoid receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / pathology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Gene Expression*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • PPAR gamma / genetics
  • PPAR gamma / physiology
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / genetics*
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Insulin
  • PPAR gamma
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid