Objective Expression of corticotropin-releasing factor type 1 receptor (CRFR1) has been shown on pancreatic β cells, and its activation potentiates glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). However, the roles of CRFR1 in energy metabolism beyond insulin release remain elusive. Materials/Methods We characterized the metabolic phenotypes of mice lacking CRFR1 (CRFR1KO mice) under conditions of energy excess. Results When fed a normal diet, the glucose profile of CRFR1KO mice in response to a glucose tolerance test was similar to that of wild-type (WT) mice, while serum insulin levels were significantly lower in CRFR1KO mice, reflecting high insulin sensitivity in part due to very low glucocorticoid levels. Histology of the pancreas revealed islet hypoplasia in CRFR1KO mice, suggesting a role of CRFR1 in maintaining the β cell mass in a manner similar to incretins. In response to a high-fat diet, CRFR1KO mice showed insulin resistance, but serum insulin levels during glucose challenge remained at a low level, indicating defective GSIS. In addition, CRFR1KO mice showed resistance to diet-induced obesity and hepatic steatosis. Although total food intake was not different between CRFR1KO and WT mice, oxygen consumption was significantly increased in CRFR1KO mice. The increased energy expenditure may explain the lean phenotype of CRFR1KO mice under conditions of energy excess. Conclusions Our results suggest that CRFR1 plays important roles in whole body energy homeostasis, providing compelling evidence of the close relationship between energy homeostasis and the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism