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Laura M Clart, Rebecca J. Welly, Eric D Queathem, R. Scott Rector, Jaume Padilla, Christopher P Baines, Jill A Kanaley, Dennis B Lubahn, and Victoria J Vieira-Potter

Estrogen receptor  (ERb), one of the two major estrogen receptors, acts via genomic and non-genomic signaling pathways to affect many metabolic functions, including mitochondrial biogenesis and respiration. This study assessed the effect of ERb classical genomic activity on adipocyte-specific and systemic metabolic responses to wheel running exercise in a rodent model of menopause. Female mice lacking the ERb DNA-binding domain (ERbDBDKO, N = 20) and wild-type (WT, N = 21) littermate controls were fed high-fat diet (HFD), ovariectomized (OVX), and randomized to control (no running wheel) and exercise (running wheel access) groups and were followed for eight weeks. Wheel running did not confer protection against metabolic dysfunction associated with HFD+OVX in either ERbDBDKO or WT mice, despite increased energy expenditure. Unexpectedly, in the ERbDBDKO group, wheel running increased fasting insulin and surrogate measures of insulin resistance, and modestly increased adipose tissue inflammatory gene expression (P<0.05). These changes were not accompanied by significant changes in adipocyte mitochondrial respiration. It was demonstrated for the first time, that female WT OVX mice do experience exercise-induced browning of white adipose tissue, indicated by a robust increase in uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) (P<0.05). However, KO mice were completely resistant to this effect, indicating that full ERb genomic activity is required for exercise-induced browning. The inability to upregulate UCP1 with exercise following OVX may have resulted in the increased insulin resistance observed in KO mice, a hypothesis requiring further investigation.

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Terese M Zidon, Jaume Padilla, Kevin L Fritsche, Rebecca J Welly, Leighton T McCabe, Olivia E Stricklin, Aaron Frank, Youngmin Park, Deborah J Clegg, Dennis B Lubahn, Jill A Kanaley, and Victoria J Vieira-Potter

Loss of ovarian hormones leads to increased adiposity and insulin resistance (IR), increasing the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the molecular mechanism behind the adverse systemic and adipose tissue-specific metabolic effects of ovariectomy requires loss of signaling through estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) or estrogen receptor β (ERβ). We examined ovariectomized (OVX) and ovary-intactwild-type (WT), ERα-null (αKO), and ERβ-null (βKO) female mice (age ~49 weeks; n = 7–12/group). All mice were fed a phytoestrogen-free diet (<15 mg/kg) and either remained ovary-intact (INT) or were OVX and followed for 12 weeks. Body composition, energy expenditure, glucose tolerance, and adipose tissue gene and protein expression were analyzed. INT αKO were ~25% fatter with reduced energy expenditure compared to age-matched INT WT controls and βKO mice (all P < 0.001). Following OVX, αKO mice did not increase adiposity or experience a further increase in IR, unlike WT and βKO, suggesting that loss of signaling through ERα mediates OVX-induced metabolic dysfunction. In fact, OVX in αKO mice (i.e., signaling through ERβ in the absence of ERα) resulted in reduced adiposity, adipocyte size, and IR (P < 0.05 for all). βKO mice responded adversely to OVX in terms of increased adiposity and development of IR. Together, these findings challenge the paradigm that ERα mediates metabolic protection over ERβ in all settings. These findings lead us to suggest that, following ovarian hormone loss, ERβ may mediate protective metabolic benefits.