The metabolic effects of an estrogen receptor modulator called tamoxifen could prevent obesity and insulin resistance, according to new research.
Scientists have also discovered the mechanisms behind tamoxifen’s effects, which could open up possibilities for new type 2 diabetes treatments.
In the study researchers from the University of Toulouse, France exposed a group of female mice to tamoxifen that were fed a high-calorie diet and had had their ovaries removed.
Tamoxife, a selective estrogen receptor modulator, is a well-known treatment for breast cancer, and while researchers have long believed it could also combat obesity-related metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes, the mechanisms of this have been unidentified.
The study team found that mice treated with tamoxifen for 12 weeks did not gain as much weight as those given placebo. These mice were also less likely to develop glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and fatty liver, complications which are all associated with type 2 diabetes.
To further analyse which estrogen receptors spark these effects, the researchers bred mice to be deficient of either the entire ER-a or just Era-AF1.
Study author Dr Pierre Gourdy, PhD, explained that the data indicated tamoxifen exposure activated the Era-AF1 receptor and led to metabolic protection.
Gourdy said the discovery “opens new perspectives for the treatment of obesity-related complications toward a pharmacologic strategy eliciting selective ERα-AF1 activation”.
The research team also believe the findings could be of significance in developing treatments for women with ovarian complications.
“Altogether, the present study first suggests that the metabolic effects of tamoxife, as well as other selective modulators of ERα, deserve to be cautiously reconsidered in women, according to their menopausal status,” added Gourdy.
The study has been published in The American Journal of Pathology.

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