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However, the level of knowledge of WAT metabolism, other than the control of lipid synthesis and storage, remains remarkably insufficient, constituting a handicap for interpretation of its physiological role (Jensen, 2007).WAT contains a complete urea cycle, as shown in the present study, which is, probably implicated in the extra-splanchnic production of citrulline, a critical factor for muscle function (Ventura et al., 2013) and inter-organ 2-amino-N transport and utilization.The experimental setup consisted on keeping two groups of undisturbed rats (female and male) under standard conditions for four weeks, in order to limit the influence of factors other than sex on the parameters analyzed.
The samples were blotted and frozen with liquid nitrogen; after weighing, they were ground under liquid nitrogen and stored at −80 °C until processed.
Later, the dissection of the rats continued, extracting the remaining WAT in ME, EP and RP sites; the rats were skinned, and the whole subcutaneous WAT was dissected.
The little we know of WAT role in amino acid metabolism is further limited by our almost nil understanding of the role sex plays on WAT metabolism.
In general terms, androgens favor protein deposition (Griggs et al., 1989), and males tend to consume spontaneously more protein than females (Radcliffe & Webster, 1978); on the other hand, estrogens lower body weight (Bryzgalova et al., 2008), in spite of females (women) having—normally—a higher body fat percentage than males (men).
However, our metabolic knowledge of WAT, especially on amino acid metabolism, is considerably limited. Subcutaneous, perigonadal, retroperitoneal and mesenteric WAT were analyzed for amino acid metabolism gene expression and enzyme activities. There was a considerable stability of the urea cycle activities and expressions, irrespective of sex, and with only limited influence of site.
In the present study, we compared the influence of sex on the amino acid metabolism profile of the four main WAT sites, focused on the paths related to ammonium handling and the urea cycle, as a way to estimate the extent of WAT implication on body amino-nitrogen metabolism. Adult female and male rats were maintained, undisturbed, under standard conditions for one month. Urea cycle was more resilient to change than other site-specialized metabolic pathways.
Young women are more resistant to obesity than men (Meyer et al., 2011); however, after menopause, this estrogenic protection wanes (Cagnacci et al., 2007).
In this study, we intended to determine whether the gross differences in WAT distribution and its resilience to change had a robust biochemical basis.
The rats were kept in a controlled environment (lights on from to ; 21.5–22.5 °C; 50–60% humidity) for one month.
The rats, without dietary manipulation, were killed, under isoflurane anesthesia, at the beginning of a light cycle (–), by aortic exsanguination, using dry-heparinized syringes; then, they were rapidly dissected, taking samples of WAT sites: mesenteric (ME), perigonadal (epididymal in males, periovaric in females, PG), retroperitoneal (RP) and subcutaneous (inguinal fat pads, SC).
Thus, we analyzed whether the WAT urea cycle and related amino acid catabolic processes of rats showed sex-modulated differences.