The effects of chronic testosterone administration on body weight, food intake, and adipose tissue are changed by estrogen treatment in female rats

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Abstract

In females, estrogens play pivotal roles in preventing excess body weight (BW) gain. On the other hand, the roles of androgens in female BW, appetite, and energy metabolism have not been fully examined. We hypothesized that androgens' effects on food intake (FI) and BW regulation change according to the estrogens' levels. To evaluate this hypothesis, the effects of chronic testosterone administration in ovariectomized (OVX) female rats with or without estradiol supplementation were examined in this study. Chronic testosterone administration decreased BW, FI, white adipose tissue (WAT) weight, and adipocyte size in OVX rats, whereas it increased BW, WAT weight, and adipocyte size in OVX with estradiol-administered rats. In addition, chronic testosterone administration increased hypothalamic CYP19a1 mRNA levels in OVX rats, whereas it did not alter CYP19a1 mRNA levels in OVX with estradiol-administered rats, indicating that conversion of testosterone to estrogens in the hypothalamus may be activated in testosterone-administered OVX rats. Furthermore, chronic testosterone administration decreased hypothalamic TNF-α mRNA levels in OVX rats, whereas it increased hypothalamic IL-1β mRNA levels in OVX with estradiol-administered rats. On the other hand, IL-1β and TNF-α mRNA levels in visceral and subcutaneous WAT and liver were not changed by chronic testosterone administration in both groups. These data indicate that the effects of chronic testosterone administration on BW, FI, WAT weight, and adipocyte size were changed by estradiol treatment in female rats. Testosterone has facilitative effects on BW gain, FI, and adiposity under the estradiol-supplemented condition, whereas it has inhibitory effects in the non-supplemented condition. Differences in the responses of hypothalamic factors, such as aromatase and inflammatory cytokines, to testosterone might underlie these opposite effects.

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