Increased susceptibility to OVX-associated metabolic dysfunction in UCP1-null mice

J Endocrinol. 2018 Aug 8:JOE-18-0139. doi: 10.1530/JOE-18-0139. Online ahead of print.


Premenopausal females are protected against adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance, until loss of ovarian hormone production (e.g., menopause). There is some evidence that females have greater brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenic capacity. Because BAT mass correlates inversely with insulin resistance, we hypothesized that increased uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression contributes to the superior metabolic health of females. Given that UCP1 transiently increases in BAT following ovariectomy (OVX), we hypothesized that UCP1 may 'buffer' OVX-mediated metabolic dysfunction. Accordingly, female UCP1 knock-out (KO) and wild-type (Digby, et al.) mice received OVX or sham (SHM) surgeries at 12 weeks of age creating four groups (n=10/group), which were followed for 14 weeks and compared for: body weight and adiposity, food intake, energy expenditure and spontaneous physical activity (metabolic chambers), insulin resistance (HOMA-IR, ADIPO-IR, and glucose tolerance testing), and adipose tissue phenotype (histology, gene, and protein expression). Two-way ANOVA was used to assess main effects of genotype (G), OVX treatment (O), and genotype by treatment (GxO) interactions, which were considered significant when P<0.05. UCP1KO mice experienced a more adverse metabolic response to OVX than WT. Whereas OVX-induced weight gain was not synergistically greater for KO compared to WT (GxO, NS), OVX-induced insulin resistance was significantly exacerbated in KO compared to WT (GxO for HOMA-IR, P<0.05). These results suggest UCP1 is protective against metabolic dysfunction associated with loss of ovarian hormones and support the need for more research into therapeutics to selectively target UCP1 for prevention and treatment of metabolic dysfunction following ovarian hormone loss.