Estrogen and adiposity--utilizing models of aromatase deficiency to explore the relationship.
Estrogen has an important role to play in energy homeostasis in both men and mice. Lack of estrogen results in the development of a metabolic syndrome in humans and rodents, including excess adiposity, hepatic steatosis (in male but not female aromatase knockout (ArKO) mice) and insulin resistance. Estrogen replacement results in a prompt reversal of the energy imbalance symptoms associated with estrogen deficiency. A corollary to the perturbed energy balance observed in the ArKO mouse is the death by apoptosis of dopaminergic neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus of male ArKO mice, an area of the brain pivotal to the regulation of energy uptake, storage, and mobilisation. An extension of our work exploring the relationship between estrogen and adiposity has been to examine the role played by androgens in energy balance. We have demonstrated that an increased androgen to estrogen ratio can promote visceral fat accumulation in the rodent by inhibiting AMPK activation and stimulating lipogenesis. Therefore, understanding the regulation of energy homeostasis is becoming an increasingly fascinating challenge, as the number of contributors, their communications, and the complexity of their interactions, involved in the preservation of this equilibrium continues to increase. Models of aromatase deficiency, both naturally occurring and engineered, will continue to provide valuable insights into energy homeostasis.