Research Topic

Sexual Dimorphisms on Central and Peripheral Control of Energy Balance

About this Research Topic

Energy balance is a highly regulated phenomenon influenced by many factors such as sex, age, physical activity, genetic and epigenetic factors, as well as various hormones. Biological differences between males and females are found at multiple levels. Sex dimorphisms in energy balance include differences in feeding behavior, the amount and distribution of body fat, the mechanisms that regulate substrate utilization, and energy homeostasis. Females generally have greater fat mass and store higher amounts of subcutaneous fat, and tend to adjust their energy expenditure at times of positive energy balance, whereas males store more visceral fat and adjust their energy intake during energy surplus. Males and females respond differently to the adiposity signals. For example, females are more sensitive to leptin and males to insulin. Furthermore, females appear to be less affected in terms of loss of body tissues when subjected to chronic periods of negative energy balance.

It is evident that males and females have important differences in the systems that regulate energy balance and body fat distribution, which have important implications for how obesity influences a variety of metabolic derangements and co-morbid conditions. Evidence links these differences to gonadal steroids which regulate appetite, lipid and glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, body fat distribution, locomotor activity, energy expenditure, reproduction, inflammation, and cognition, mediated through central and peripheral mechanisms, as gonadal hormones have multiple sites of action.

Incorporating sex as a biological variable would expand our understanding of the sex differences in the areas of neurobiology, endocrinology, and metabolism, providing new insights into differences in metabolic function and disease incidence and progression. It will also yield a valuable source of information that could be used in clinical trials and applied to prevent metabolic dysfunction and develop sex-specific therapeutic strategies. The aim of this Research Topic is to explore what we know about these sex differences in energy balance, the role that sex hormones play in these differences, as well as to highlight the current state of the art of the discipline of sex dimorphism research.

The Research Topic is open to original research, reviews, mini-reviews, or novel methodological descriptions. Studies ranging from molecular, cellular, systems, and whole-body function are welcome. Sub-topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:
• Sex differences in hormone levels and their impact on fuel metabolism during rest and exercise.
• Sex differences in physical activity and energy expenditure.
• Sex-dependent molecular/cellular mechanisms in substrate utilization and responses to alteration in energy homeostasis.
• Epigenetic mechanisms in sexual differentiation of the brain, behavior, or energy metabolism.
• Sex hormones and their actions in the brain and metabolism.
• Potential strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of metabolic dysfunction in males and females.


Keywords: sex dimorphism, sex hormones, energy balance, feeding behavior, energy metabolism, metabolic dysfunction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Energy balance is a highly regulated phenomenon influenced by many factors such as sex, age, physical activity, genetic and epigenetic factors, as well as various hormones. Biological differences between males and females are found at multiple levels. Sex dimorphisms in energy balance include differences in feeding behavior, the amount and distribution of body fat, the mechanisms that regulate substrate utilization, and energy homeostasis. Females generally have greater fat mass and store higher amounts of subcutaneous fat, and tend to adjust their energy expenditure at times of positive energy balance, whereas males store more visceral fat and adjust their energy intake during energy surplus. Males and females respond differently to the adiposity signals. For example, females are more sensitive to leptin and males to insulin. Furthermore, females appear to be less affected in terms of loss of body tissues when subjected to chronic periods of negative energy balance.

It is evident that males and females have important differences in the systems that regulate energy balance and body fat distribution, which have important implications for how obesity influences a variety of metabolic derangements and co-morbid conditions. Evidence links these differences to gonadal steroids which regulate appetite, lipid and glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, body fat distribution, locomotor activity, energy expenditure, reproduction, inflammation, and cognition, mediated through central and peripheral mechanisms, as gonadal hormones have multiple sites of action.

Incorporating sex as a biological variable would expand our understanding of the sex differences in the areas of neurobiology, endocrinology, and metabolism, providing new insights into differences in metabolic function and disease incidence and progression. It will also yield a valuable source of information that could be used in clinical trials and applied to prevent metabolic dysfunction and develop sex-specific therapeutic strategies. The aim of this Research Topic is to explore what we know about these sex differences in energy balance, the role that sex hormones play in these differences, as well as to highlight the current state of the art of the discipline of sex dimorphism research.

The Research Topic is open to original research, reviews, mini-reviews, or novel methodological descriptions. Studies ranging from molecular, cellular, systems, and whole-body function are welcome. Sub-topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:
• Sex differences in hormone levels and their impact on fuel metabolism during rest and exercise.
• Sex differences in physical activity and energy expenditure.
• Sex-dependent molecular/cellular mechanisms in substrate utilization and responses to alteration in energy homeostasis.
• Epigenetic mechanisms in sexual differentiation of the brain, behavior, or energy metabolism.
• Sex hormones and their actions in the brain and metabolism.
• Potential strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of metabolic dysfunction in males and females.


Keywords: sex dimorphism, sex hormones, energy balance, feeding behavior, energy metabolism, metabolic dysfunction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

24 September 2021 Abstract
25 February 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

24 September 2021 Abstract
25 February 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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