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Gabriel O de Souza, Fernanda M Chaves, Josiane N Silva, João A B Pedroso, Martin Metzger, Renata Frazão, and Jose Donato

Recent studies indicated an important role of connexins, gap junction proteins, in the regulation of metabolism. However, most of these studies focused on the glial expression of connexins, whereas the actions of connexins in neurons are still poorly investigated. Thus, the present study had the objective to investigate the possible involvement of gap junctions, and in particular connexin 43 (CX43), for the central regulation of energy homeostasis. Initially, we demonstrated that hypothalamic CX43 expression was suppressed in fasted mice. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we showed that pharmacological blockade of gap junctions induced hyperpolarization and decreased the frequency of action potentials in 50–70% of agouti-related protein (AgRP)-expressing neurons, depending on the blocker used (carbenoxolone disodium, TAT-Gap19 or Gap 26). When recordings were performed with a biocytin-filled pipette, this intercellular tracer was detected in surrounding cells. Then, an AgRP-specific CX43 knockout (AgRPΔCX43) mouse was generated. AgRPΔCX43 mice exhibited no differences in body weight, adiposity, food intake, energy expenditure and glucose homeostasis. Metabolic responses to 24 h fasting or during refeeding were also not altered in AgRPΔCX43 mice. However, AgRPΔCX43 male, but not female mice, exhibited a partial protection against high-fat diet-induced obesity, even though no significant changes in energy intake or expenditure were detected. In summary, our findings indicate that gap junctions regulate the activity of AgRP neurons, and AgRP-specific CX43 ablation is sufficient to mildly prevent diet-induced obesity specifically in males.

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João A B Pedroso, Pedro O R de Mendonca, Marco A S Fortes, Igor Tomaz, Vitor L Pecorali, Thais B Auricino, Ismael C Costa, Leandro B Lima, Isadora C Furigo, Debora N Bueno, Angela M Ramos-Lobo, Claudimara F P Lotfi, and Jose Donato Jr

Many hormones/cytokines are secreted in response to exercise and cytokine signaling may play a pivotal role in the training adaptations. To investigate the importance of cytokine signaling during vertical ladder climbing, a resistance exercise model, we produced mice lacking SOCS3 protein exclusively in steroidogenic factor-1 (SF1) cells (SF1 Socs3 KO mice). SF1 expression is found in steroidogenic cells of the adrenal cortex and gonads, as well as in neurons of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus. Histological markers of the fetal adrenal zone (or X-zone in rodents) were still present in adult males and postpartum SF1 Socs3 KO females, suggesting a previously unrecognized effect of SOCS3 on the terminal differentiation of the adrenal gland. This change led to a distinct distribution of lipid droplets along the adrenal cortex. Under basal conditions, adult SF1 Socs3 KO mice exhibited similar adrenal weight, and plasma ACTH and corticosterone concentrations. Nonetheless, SF1 Socs3 KO mice exhibited a blunted ACTH-induced corticosterone secretion. The overall metabolic responses induced by resistance training remained unaffected in SF1 Socs3 KO mice, including changes in body adiposity, glucose tolerance and energy expenditure. However, training performance and glucose control during intense resistance exercise were impaired in SF1 Socs3 KO mice. Furthermore, a reduced counter-regulatory response to 2-deoxy-d-glucose was observed in mutant mice. These findings revealed a novel participation of SOCS3 regulating several endocrine and metabolic aspects. Therefore, cytokine signaling in SF1 cells exerts an important role to sustain training performance possibly by promoting the necessary metabolic adjustments during exercise.