Aging women experience hormonal changes, such as decreased estrogen and increased circulating androgen, due to natural or surgical menopause. These hormonal changes make postmenopausal women vulnerable to body composition changes, muscle loss, and abdominal obesity; with a sedentary lifestyle, these changes affect overall energy expenditure and basal metabolic rate. In addition, fat redistribution due to hormonal changes leads to changes in body shape. In particular, increased bone marrow-derived adipocytes due to estrogen loss contribute to increased visceral fat in postmenopausal women. Enhanced visceral fat lipolysis by adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase triggers the production of excessive free fatty acids, causing insulin resistance and metabolic diseases. Because genes involved in β-oxidation are downregulated by estradiol loss, excess free fatty acids produced by lipolysis of visceral fat cannot be used appropriately as an energy source through β-oxidation. Moreover, aged women show increased adipogenesis due to upregulated expression of genes related to fat accumulation. As a result, the catabolism of ATP production associated with β-oxidation decreases, and metabolism associated with lipid synthesis increases. This review describes the changes in energy metabolism and lipid metabolic abnormalities that are the background of weight gain in postmenopausal women.
Keywords: changed body composition; energy metabolism; estrogen deficiency; lipid metabolic disorder; metabolic rate.