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Physiol Behav. 1991 Aug;50(2):337-43.

Fasting-induced rise in locomotor activity in rats coincides with increased protein utilization.

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Laboratoire de Thermorégulation et Energétique de l'Exercise, CNRS, URA 1341, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon, France.


The aim of this study was to investigate the possible relation between the modifications in locomotor activity (on running wheel) which occur during prolonged fasting and changes in the utilization of energy reserves. In 18-week-old rats, we found that the rate of body mass loss reflects the changes in nitrogen excretion that occur over three phases of fasting: (I) initially decreasing, (II) maintained at a low level and (III) increasing. Locomotor activity started to increase during phase II without a change in its nycthemeral pattern. By contrast, the 10-fold higher daily locomotor activity that occurred in phase III was marked by a higher proportion of diurnal activity. Using 9-, 18-, and 33-week-old rats, in order to obtain a different timing in the metabolic changes during fasting, we could confirm the coincidence between the later rise in locomotor activity and the occurrence of phase III. Refeeding of rats of either age in phase III rapidly suppressed fasting-induced changes in locomotor activity. These data accord with the idea that behavioral changes reflecting the search for food are triggered by a later and reversible change in the utilization of body protein vs. lipid stores during prolonged fasting.

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