Cortisol implants in normal and diabetic rats reduced body weight, adiposity, insulin receptor concentration and both basal and insulin-stimulated rates of lipogenesis in isolated adipocytes, whilst insulin sensitivity was unchanged. In normal but not diabetic rats these changes were accompanied by increased serum glucose and insulin concentrations.
In contrast, progesterone implants in normal and diabetic rats increased body weight gain, adiposity, insulin receptor concentration and both basal and insulin-stimulated rates of lipogenesis in adipose tissue, again without affecting insulin sensitivity. Progesterone did not affect serum insulin concentrations in normal or diabetic rats but accelerated the decline in serum glucose concentrations which occurred during an overnight fast in diabetic rats.
The results suggest that (1) cortisol inhibits lipogenesis in adipose tissue without affecting insulin sensitivity, (2) cortisol reduces insulin binding in adipose tissue without a requirement for hyperinsulinaemia, which might itself indirectly lead to down-regulation of the insulin receptor, and (3) in diabetic rats progesterone stimulates lipogenesis in adipose tissue without any increase in food intake or serum insulin concentrations suggesting that progesterone may have a direct anabolic role in adipose tissue.