Estrogens protect against diet-induced obesity in women and female rodents. For example, a lack of estrogens in postmenopausal women is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, cardiovascular diseases, low-grade inflammation, and cancer. Estrogens act with leptin to regulate energy homeostasis in females. Leptin-deficient mice (ob/ob) exhibit morbid obesity and insulin resistance. The gut microbiome is also critical in regulating metabolism. The present study investigates whether estrogens and leptin modulate gut microbiota in ovariectomized ob/ob (obese) or heterozygote (lean) mice fed high-fat diet (HFD) that received either 17β-Estradiol (E2) or vehicle implants. E2 attenuated weight gain in both genotypes. Moreover, both obesity (ob/ob mice) and E2 were associated with reduced gut microbial diversity. ob/ob mice exhibited lower species richness than control mice, while E2-treated mice had reduced evenness compared with vehicle mice. Regarding taxa, E2 was associated with an increased abundance of the S24-7 family, while leptin was associated with increases in Coriobacteriaceae, Clostridium and Lactobacillus. Some taxa were affected by both E2 and leptin, suggesting these hormones alter gut microbiota of HFD-fed female mice. Understanding the role of E2 and leptin in regulating gut microbiota will provide important insights into hormone-dependent metabolic disorders in women.
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