Selenium, an essential trace element known mainly for its antioxidant properties, is critical for proper brain function and regulation of energy metabolism. Whole-body knockout of the selenium recycling enzyme, selenocysteine lyase (Scly), increases susceptibility to metabolic syndrome and diet-induced obesity in mice. Scly knockout mice also have decreased selenoprotein expression levels in the hypothalamus, a key regulator of energy homeostasis. This study investigated the role of selenium in whole-body metabolism regulation using a mouse model with hypothalamic knockout of Scly. Agouti-related peptide (Agrp) promoter-driven Scly knockout resulted in reduced weight gain and adiposity while on a high-fat diet (HFD). Scly-Agrp knockout mice had reduced Agrp expression in the hypothalamus, as measured by Western blot and immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC also revealed that while control mice developed HFD-induced leptin resistance in the arcuate nucleus, Scly-Agrp knockout mice maintained leptin sensitivity. Brown adipose tissue from Scly-Agrp knockout mice had reduced lipid deposition and increased expression of the thermogenic marker uncoupled protein-1. This study sheds light on the important role of selenium utilization in energy homeostasis, provides new information on the interplay between the central nervous system and whole-body metabolism, and may help identify key targets of interest for therapeutic treatment of metabolic disorders.
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