Sex differences in lipid metabolism during reproduction in free-living tree lizards (Urosaurus ornatus)

Eva L. Lacy, Mark A. Sheridan, Michael C. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Understanding the relationship between energy metabolism and signals that regulate reproduction may provide insight into the coordination of the energetically costly behavioral and physiological events that occur during reproduction. Significant changes in the utilization of stored lipids may occur during reproduction and the patterns of utilization observed often differ between females and males. Changes in levels of stored lipid reserves have been described extensively in animals from many taxa, but detailed biochemical analyses of alterations in the enzymes and substrates regulating lipid metabolism during periods of active reproductive effort rarely have been performed. In addition, few studies have compared males and females from the same population during the same reproductive season. In this study we examined lipid metabolism in free-living female and male tree lizards across a single reproductive season. We measured lipid stores, circulating lipid substrates, and the activities of enzymes regulating lipid storage and release in both liver and adipose tissue. Overall, females and males showed significant variation in abdominal fat body mass, liver total lipid, the activity of an enzyme regulating fat storage (DGAT) in both of these tissues, and circulating free fatty acids across the reproductive season. In females, total fat body mass, adipose DGAT, liver lipid, and liver DGAT significantly varied across reproductive stage, with vitellogenic and Gravid females often at opposite extremes. In males, fat body mass and liver fat varied across reproductive stage (without significant variation in DGAT in either tissue), as did circulating glycerol and free fatty acids. Correlations among sex steroid hormone levels and lipid metabolism variables suggested a role for these hormones in producing the patterns observed in each sex and in the observed sex differences lipid metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-192
Number of pages13
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Adipose tissue
  • Estradiol
  • Fat body
  • Progesterone
  • Sex differences
  • Sex steroids
  • Testosterone


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