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2020 Apr 27


Sex-specific effects of αγ in the ventromedial hypothalamus of female mice controlling glucose and lipid balance.


The thrombospondin receptor α2δ-1 plays essential roles promoting the activity of SF1 neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and mediating glucose and lipid metabolism in male mice. Its role in the VMH of female mice remains to be defined, especially considering that this hypothalamic region is sexually dimorphic. We found that α2δ-1 depletion in SF1 neurons differentially affects glucose and lipid balance control and sympathetic tone in females compared to males. Mutant females show a modest increase in relative body weight gain when fed a high fat diet (HFD) and normal energy expenditure, indicating that α2δ-1 is not a critical regulator of energy balance in females, similar to males. However, diminished α2δ-1 function in the VMH leads to enhanced glycemic control in females fed a chow diet, in contrast to the glucose intolerance reported previously in mutant males. Interestingly, the effects of α2δ-1 on glucose balance in females are influenced by diet. Accordingly, females but not males lacking α2δ-1 exhibit diminished glycemic control as well as susceptibility to hepatic steatosis when fed a HFD. Increased hepatic sympathetic tone and CD36 mRNA expression and reduced adiponectin levels underlie these diet-induced metabolic alterations in mutant females. The results indicate that α2δ-1 in VMH SF1 neurons critically regulates metabolic function through sexually dimorphic mechanisms. These findings are clinically relevant as metabolic alterations have been reported as a side effects in human patients prescribed gabapentinoid drugs, known to inhibit α2δ-1 function, for the treatment of seizure disorders, neuropathic pain and anxiety disorders.