Journal of Endocrinology

 SOCS3 expression in SF1 cells regulates adrenal differentiation and exercise performance

Many hormones/cytokines are secreted in response to exercise and cytokine signaling may play a pivotal role in the training adaptations. To investigate the importance of cytokine signaling during vertical ladder climbing, a resistance exercise model, we produced mice lacking SOCS3 protein exclusively in steroidogenic factor-1 (SF1) cells (SF1 Socs3 KO mice). SF1 expression is found in steroidogenic cells of the adrenal cortex and gonads, as well as in neurons of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus. Histological markers of the fetal adrenal zone (or X-zone in rodents) were still present in adult males and postpartum SF1 Socs3 KO females, suggesting a previously unrecognized effect of SOCS3 on the terminal differentiation of the adrenal gland. This change led to a distinct distribution of lipid droplets along the adrenal cortex. Under basal conditions, adult SF1 Socs3 KO mice exhibited similar adrenal weight, and plasma ACTH and corticosterone concentrations. Nonetheless, SF1 Socs3 KO mice exhibited a blunted ACTH-induced corticosterone secretion. The overall metabolic responses induced by resistance training remained unaffected in SF1 Socs3 KO mice, including changes in body adiposity, glucose tolerance and energy expenditure. However, training performance and glucose control during intense resistance exercise were impaired in SF1 Socs3 KO mice. Furthermore, a reduced counter-regulatory response to 2-deoxy-d-glucose was observed in mutant mice. These findings revealed a novel participation of SOCS3 regulating several endocrine and metabolic aspects. Therefore, cytokine signaling in SF1 cells exerts an important role to sustain training performance possibly by promoting the necessary metabolic adjustments during exercise.