Hepatic Glucose Intolerance Precedes Hepatic Steatosis in the Male Aromatase Knockout (ArKO) Mouse

<div><p>Estrogens are known to play a role in modulating metabolic processes within the body. The Aromatase knockout (ArKO) mice have been shown to harbor factors of Metabolic syndrome with central adiposity, hyperinsulinemia and male-specific hepatic steatosis. To determine the effects of estrogen ablation and subsequent replacement in males on whole body glucose metabolism, three- and six-month-old male ArKO mice were subjected to whole body glucose, insulin and pyruvate tolerance tests and analyzed for ensuing metabolic changes in liver, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle. Estrogen-deficient male ArKO mice showed increased gonadal adiposity which was significantly reduced upon 17β-estradiol (E2) treatment. Concurrently, elevated ArKO serum leptin levels were significantly reduced upon E2 treatment and lowered serum adiponectin levels were restored to wild type levels. Three-month-old male ArKO mice were hyperglycemic, and both glucose and pyruvate intolerant. These phenotypes continued through to 6 months of age, highlighting a loss of glycemic control. ArKO livers displayed changes in gluconeogenic enzyme expression, and in insulin signaling pathways upon E2 treatment. Liver triglycerides were increased in the ArKO males only after 6 months of age, which could be reversed by E2 treatment. No differences were observed in insulin-stimulated <i>ex vivo</i> muscle glucose uptake nor changes in ArKO adipose tissue and muscle insulin signaling pathways. Therefore, we conclude that male ArKO mice develop hepatic glucose intolerance by the age of 3 months which precedes the sex-specific development of hepatic steatosis. This can be reversed upon the administration of exogenous E2.</p></div>