Research ArticleMetabolism

Muscle-generated BDNF is a sexually dimorphic myokine that controls metabolic flexibility

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Science Signaling  13 Aug 2019:
Vol. 12, Issue 594, eaau1468
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aau1468

Engendering metabolically flexible muscle

The effect of gender differences on many physiological processes, including metabolism, is an understudied area. Although BDNF is best known as a neurotrophin involved in synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival, Yang et al. found that fasting triggered the production of BDNF from skeletal muscle in female mice but not in male mice. During fasting, skeletal muscles switch from using carbohydrates to fatty acids as a fuel source. Skeletal muscle deficiency of BDNF in female mice (but not in male mice) prevented this metabolic switch and resulted in myofiber necrosis, reduced muscle strength, and insulin resistance. Therefore, BDNF production by skeletal muscle enables metabolic adaption during fasting in female mice.

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