Obesity-induced inflammation is a risk factor for metabolic impairment leading to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We, and others, have shown that sex differences exist in adipose tissue (AT) and myeloid inflammatory responses to high-fat diet (HFD) and lipolysis. However, the causal cellular mechanisms behind this sexual dimorphism are not well defined. Our objective was to investigate sex differences in lipid storage and metabolism that drive sexually dimorphic inflammatory responses. C57Bl/6J mice were fed a normal diet or 60%kcal%fat (HFD) for 16 weeks. AT macrophages (ATMs) were sorted for RNA sequencing. Animals were gonadectomized (GX) prior to starting HFD and gonadal white AT (GWAT) was collected for lipidomics. To directly model androgen receptor (AR) activation, GX mice were given dihydrotestosterone (DHT) to study AR-specific effects. RNA sequencing identified upregulated genes (Lpl, Ctsb, and Cd36) linked to a metabolically-activated macrophage only in male HFD ATMs. Furthermore, pathways associated with mitochondrial depolarization and fatty acid (FA) metabolism differed significantly by sex. GWAT lipidomics identified shifts in lipid species both by sex and hormone status, and differences were also observed in acylcarnitines and saturation of ceramide species that are implicated in inflammation. In addition, males showed elevated levels of key precursor free FAs (palmitic, linoleic, and arachidonic acid) when compared to female and GX mice. DHT treatment did not completely mimic male pro-inflammatory responses but induced GWAT crown-like structures in both sexes. DHT failed to upregulate inflammatory markers (Il6 and Mcp1) but showed impaired expression of adipogenic genes (Pparg and Pgc1α) in GX mice. Altogether, our data suggest there are sex-specific alterations in GWAT lipid storage and metabolism that may drive sexually dimorphic ATM polarization, which is only partially reversed by AR activation.


R. Mohan: None. M. Varghese: None. S. Abrishami: None. K. Singer: None.


National Institutes of Health - NIDDK (R01DK115583)

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