Mechanisms underlying obesity-associated reproductive impairment are ill defined. Hyperinsulinemia is a metabolic perturbation often observed in obese subjects. Insulin activates phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling, which regulates ovarian folliculogenesis, steroidogenesis, and xenobiotic metabolism. The impact of progressive obesity on ovarian genes encoding mRNA involved in insulin-mediated PI3K signaling and xenobiotic biotransformation [insulin receptor (Insr), insulin receptor substrate 1 (Irs1), 2 (Irs2), and 3 (Irs3); kit ligand (Kitlg), stem cell growth factor receptor (Kit), protein kinase B (AKT) alpha (Akt1), beta (Akt2), forkhead transcription factor (FOXO) subfamily 1 (Foxo1), and subfamily 3 (Foxo3a), microsomal epoxide hydrolase (Ephx1), cytochrome P450 family 2, subfamily E, polypeptide 1 (Cyp2e1), glutathione S-transferase (GST) class Pi (Gstp1) and class mu 1 (Gstm1)] was determined in normal wild-type nonagouti (a/a; lean) and lethal yellow mice (KK.CG-Ay/J; obese) at 6, 12, 18, or 24 weeks of age. At 6 weeks, ovaries from obese mice had increased (P < 0.05) Insr and Irs3 but decreased (P < 0.05) Kitlg, Foxo1, and Cyp2e1 mRNA levels. Interestingly, at 12 weeks, an increase (P < 0.05) in Kitlg and Kit mRNA, pIRS1Ser302, pAKTThr308, EPHX1, and GSTP1 protein level was observed due to obesity, while Cyp2e1 mRNA and protein were reduced. A phosphoramide mustard (PM) challenge increased (P < 0.05) ovarian EPHX1 protein abundance in lean but not obese females. In addition, lung tissue from PM-exposed animals had increased (P < 0.05) EPHX1 protein with no impact of obesity thereon. Taken together, progressive obesity affected ovarian signaling pathways potentially involved in obesity-associated reproductive disorders.
Obesity alters ovarian signaling pathways that regulate primordial follicle activation and chemical biotransformation, thereby potentially contributing to reproductive dysfunction.