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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Apr 1;314(4):E353-E365. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00195.2017. Epub 2017 Dec 19.

Insulin signaling displayed a differential tissue-specific response to low-dose dihydrotestosterone in female mice.

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Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine , Baltimore, Maryland.
Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Howard University College of Medicine , Washington, District of Columbia.


Hyperandrogenemia and hyperinsulinemia are believed to play prominent roles in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). We explored the effects of low-dose dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a model of PCOS, on insulin signaling in metabolic and reproductive tissues in a female mouse model. Insulin resistance in the energy storage tissues is associated with type 2 diabetes. Insulin signaling in the ovaries and pituitary either directly or indirectly stimulates androgen production. Energy storage and reproductive tissues were isolated and molecular assays were performed. Livers and white adipose tissue (WAT) from DHT mice displayed lower mRNA and protein expression of insulin signaling intermediates. However, ovaries and pituitaries of DHT mice exhibited higher expression levels of insulin signaling genes/proteins. Insulin-stimulated p-AKT levels were blunted in the livers and WAT of the DHT mice but increased or remained the same in the ovaries and pituitaries compared with controls. Glucose uptake decreased in liver and WAT but was unchanged in pituitary and ovary of DHT mice. Plasma membrane GLUTs were decreased in liver and WAT but increased in ovary and pituitary of DHT mice. Skeletal muscle insulin-signaling genes were not lowered in DHT mice compared with control. DHT mice did not display skeletal muscle insulin resistance. Insulin-stimulated glucose transport increased in skeletal muscles of DHT mice compared with controls. DHT mice were hyperinsulinemic. However, the differential mRNA and protein expression pattern was independent of hyperinsulinemia in cultured hepatocytes and pituitary cells. These findings demonstrate a differential effect of DHT on the insulin-signaling pathway in energy storage vs. reproductive tissues independent of hyperinsulinemia.


DHT; glucose transport; hyperandrogenemia or androgen excess; insulin signaling; reproductive endocrinology

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