Previous studies in rodents and humans suggest that hyperandrogenemia causes white adipose tissue (WAT) dysfunction in females, although the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In light of the differences in the length of the ovarian cycle between humans and rodents, we used a nonhuman primate model to elucidate the effects of chronic hyperandrogenemia on WAT function in vivo. Female rhesus macaques implanted with testosterone capsules developed insulin resistance and altered leptin secretion on a high-fat, Western-style diet. In control visceral WAT, lipolysis and hormone-sensitive lipase expression were upregulated during the luteal phase compared with the early follicular (menses) phase of the ovarian cycle. Hyperandrogenemia attenuated elevated lipolysis and hormone-sensitive lipase activity in visceral WAT during the luteal phase but not during menses. Under control conditions, insulin-stimulated Akt and Erk activation and fatty acid uptake in WAT were not significantly affected by the ovarian cycle. In contrast, testosterone treatment preferentially increased fatty acid uptake and insulin signaling at menses. The fatty acid synthase and glucose transporter-4 genes were upregulated by testosterone during the luteal phase. In summary, this study reveals ovarian stage-specific fluctuations in adipocyte lipolysis and suggests that male sex hormones increase and female sex hormones decrease lipid storage in female WAT.
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