Nf1 heterozygous mice recapitulate the anthropometric and metabolic features of human neurofibromatosis type 1

Rebekah Tritz, Tyler Benson, Valerie Harris, Farlyn Z. Hudson, James Mintz, Hanfang Zhang, Simone Kennard, Weiqin Chen, David W. Stepp, Gabor Csanyi, Eric J. Belin de Chantemèle, Neal L. Weintraub, Brian K. Stansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a heritable cancer predisposition syndrome resulting from mutations in the NF1 tumor suppressor gene. Genotype-phenotype correlations for NF1 are rare due to the large number of NF1 mutations and role of modifier genes in manifestations of NF1; however, emerging reports suggest that persons with NF1 display a distinct anthropometric and metabolic phenotype featuring short stature, low body mass index, increased insulin sensitivity, and protection from diabetes. Nf1 heterozygous (Nf1+/−) mice accurately reflect the dominant inheritance of NF1 and are regularly employed as a model of NF1. Here, we sought to identify whether Nf1+/− mice recapitulate the anthropometric and metabolic features identified in persons with NF1. Littermate 16-20 week-old male wildtype (WT) and Nf1+/− C57B/6J mice underwent nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), indirect calorimetry, and glucose/insulin/pyruvate tolerance testing. In some experiments, tissues were harvested for NMR and histologic characterization. Nf1+/− mice are leaner with significantly reduced visceral and subcutaneous fat mass, which corresponds with an increased density of small adipocytes and reduced leptin levels. Additionally, Nf1+/− mice are highly reliant on carbohydrates as an energy substrate and display increased glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity, but normal response to pyruvate suggesting enhanced glucose utilization and preserved gluconeogenesis. Finally, WT and Nf1+/− mice subjected to high glucose diet were protected from diet-induced obesity and hyperglycemia. Our data suggest that Nf1+/− mice closely recapitulate the anthropometric and metabolic phenotype identified in persons with NF1, which will impact the interpretation of previous and future translational studies of NF1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-63
Number of pages12
JournalTranslational Research
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry, medical


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