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Oecologia. 2006 Sep;149(3):373-82. Epub 2006 Jul 6.

Seasonal thermogenesis and body mass regulation in plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae).

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Northwest Plateau Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, Qinghai, 810001, China.


Changes in photoperiod, ambient temperature and food availability trigger seasonal acclimatization in physiology and behavior of many animals. In the present study, seasonal adjustments in body mass and in several physiological, hormonal, and biochemical markers were examined in wild-captured plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) from the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. Our results showed that plateau pikas maintained a relatively constant body mass throughout the year and showed no seasonal changes in body fat mass and circulating levels of serum leptin. However, nonshivering thermogenesis, cytochrome c oxidase activity, and mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) contents in brown adipose tissues were significantly enhanced in winter. Further, serum leptin levels were positively correlated with body mass and body fat mass while negatively correlated with UCP1 contents. Together, these data suggest that plateau pikas mainly depend on increasing thermogenic capacities, rather than decreasing body mass, to cope with cold, and leptin may play a potential role in their thermogenesis and body mass regulation.

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