Sex differences in metabolism and cardiometabolic disease risk are well described. Because estrogen action is thought to underlie female-biased protection of immunometabolism and cardiometabolic health, we selectively deleted the estrogen receptor alpha (ERa, encoded by Esr1) from myeloid cells of mice to understand the impact of estrogen action on macrophage function. Our previous findings in other glucoregulatory cell types point to an important role of ERa in the control of mitochondrial form and function. Mitochondria play a critical role in innate immunity, and disruption of mitochondrial function is linked to the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic disease. In addition to a primary role in energy production, mitochondria are central in the regulation of iron homeostasis, a critical process governing immune cell function. Myeloid-specific Esr1 knockout mice (MACER) showed increased diet-induced glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, adiposity, and atherosclerotic lesion area compared with f/f controls. A key phenotype of MACER mice was marked accumulation of iron in liver, spleen, gonadal white adipose tissue, and bone marrow-derived macrophages compared with f/f controls. Specifically, iron accumulated in mitochondria from macrophages within tissues of MACER mice. Iron accumulation was linked with alteration of mitochondrial inner and outer membrane morphology and mtDNA replication machinery, and associated with increased transferrin receptor (Tfrc) expression and cellular inflammation driven by interleukin-1-β. We utilized chromatin immunoprecipitation approaches to identify novel ERa-regulated chromatin structures and target genes that modulate immunometabolism of macrophages. Our findings indicate that Esr1 is critical in the regulation of mitochondrial metabolism and iron homeostasis in macrophages, and the action of ERa is critical for the protection against inflammation and cardiometabolic-related disease.


H.Iwasaki: None. B.K.Leyva: None. A.Ma: None. N.L.Yang: None. P.H.Tran: None. Z.Zhou: None. A.L.Hevener: None.


National Institutes of Health (DK128957)

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