2014 Volume 61 Issue 11 Pages 1055-1067
Adipose tissue is an organ with active endocrine function involved in the regulation of energy balance and glucose homeostasis via multiple metabolic signaling pathways targeting the brain, liver, skeletal muscle, pancreas, and other organs. There is increasing evidence demonstrating that the female sex hormone, estrogen, regulates adipose development and improves systemic glucose homeostasis in both males and females. The underlying mechanism linking estrogenic regulation in adipose tissue and systemic glucose metabolism has not been fully elucidated, but is thought to include interactions of estrogen receptor signaling events involving lipolytic and/or lipogenic enzyme activity, free fatty acid metabolism, and adipocytokine production. Thus, understanding the effects of estrogen replacement on adipose tissue biology and metabolism is important in determining the risk of developing obesity-related metabolic disorders in patients undergoing treatment for sex hormone deficiency. In this report, we review literature regarding the role of estrogens and their corresponding receptors in the control of adipose metabolism and glucose homeostasis in both rodents and humans. We also discuss the effects of selective estrogen receptor modulators on glucose metabolism.