The preoptic anterior hypothalamus (POAH) , known as a thermointegrative center, modulates metabolic adaptation in response to temperature change, thus making it relevant for body weight homeostasis. Forkhead transcription factor O1 (FoxO1) plays an important role in mediating effects of leptin and insulin on metabolic homeostasis in the hypothalamus. However, the homeostatic role of FoxO1 in POAH has not been investigated. We found that FoxO1 specific deletion in the POAH neurons (FoxO1POAH-KO) prevented high fat diet-induced obesity (DIO) in female but not male mice. This female-specific protection was associated with increased lean mass, decreased fat mass, and upregulated thermogenesis in adipose tissues. The female FoxO1POAH-KO mice also showed improved insulin sensitivity and increased energy expenditure when exposed at room temperature (22 °C) or cold (6 °C) . Moreover, the FoxO1POAH-KO-induced protection against DIO in females was blunted by ovariectomy (OVX) , while 17β-estradiol supplementation after OVX failed to restore this protection, suggesting an estrogen-independent mechanism. Finally, mice with FoxO1 constitutively activated in the POAH neurons (FoxO1POAH-CA) significantly increased DIO in both sexes, further supporting an essential metabolic role of FoxO1POAH. Together, these findings indicate that FoxO1POAH is a crucial transcription factor that directs and coordinates control of energy balance, thermogenesis, and glucose homeostasis in female mice.

Key words: FoxO1, POAH, sex difference.


P. Luo: None. H. Ye: None. T. Unterman: None. P. Xu: None.


P. Xu is supported by National Institutes of Health (R00DK1070 and R01DK123098) , Department of Defense (Innovative Grant W81XWH-19-PRMRP-DA) , and The University of Chicago Diabetes Research and Training Center (The Pilot and Feasibility Award DK020595) .

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