Increased visceral adiposity and hyperglycemia, 2 characteristics of metabolic syndrome, are also present in conditions of excess glucocorticoids (GCs). GCs are hormones thought to act primarily via the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). GCs are commonly prescribed for inflammatory disorders, yet their use is limited due to many adverse metabolic side effects. In addition to GR, GCs also bind the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), but there are many conflicting studies about the exact role of MR in metabolic disease. Using MR knockout mice (MRKO), we find that both white and brown adipose depots form normally when compared with wild-type mice at P5. We created mice with adipocyte-specific deletion of MR (FMRKO) to better understand the role of MR in metabolic dysfunction. Treatment of mice with excess GCs for 4 weeks, via corticosterone in drinking water, induced increased fat mass and glucose intolerance to similar levels in FMRKO and floxed control mice. Separately, when fed a high-fat diet for 16 weeks, FMRKO mice had reduced body weight, fat mass, and hepatic steatosis, relative to floxed control mice. Decreased adiposity likely resulted from increased energy expenditure since food intake was not different. RNA sequencing analysis revealed decreased enrichment of genes associated with adipogenesis in inguinal white adipose of FMRKO mice. Differentiation of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) showed modestly impaired adipogenesis in MRKO MEFs compared with wild type, but this was rescued upon the addition of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) agonist or PPARγ overexpression. Collectively, these studies provide further evidence supporting the potential value of MR as a therapeutic target for conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.
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