Sex differences in the metabolic effects of testosterone in sheep

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Adiposity is regulated in a sexually divergent manner. This is partly due to sex steroids, but the differential effects of androgens in males and females are unclear. We investigated effects of testosterone on energy balance in castrated male (n = 6) and female sheep (n = 4), which received 3 x 200 mg testosterone implants for 2 wk or blank implants (controls). Temperature probes were implanted into retroperitoneal fat and skeletal muscle. Blood samples were taken to measure metabolites and insulin. In males, muscle and fat biopsies were collected to measure uncoupling protein (UCP) mRNA and phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase and Akt. Testosterone did not change food intake in either sex. Temperature in muscle was higher in males than females, and testosterone reduced heat production in males only. In fat, however, temperature was higher in the castrate males compared with females, and there was no effect of testosterone treatment in either sex. Preprandial glucose levels were lower, but nonesterified fatty acids were higher in females compared with males, irrespective of testosterone. In males, the onset of feeding increased UCP1 and UCP3 mRNA levels in skeletal muscle, without an effect of testosterone. During feeding, testosterone reduced glucose levels in males only but did not alter the phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase or Akt in muscle. Thus, testosterone maintains lower muscle and fat temperatures in males but not females. The mechanism underlying this sex-specific effect of testosterone is unknown but may be due to sexual differentiation of the brain centers controlling energy expenditure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123 - 131
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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