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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.