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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Aug;113(3):473-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00668.2011. Epub 2012 May 31.

Effects of voluntary running on oxygen consumption, RQ, and energy expenditure during primary prevention of diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6N mice.

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Department of Medical Pharmacology, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA.


Diet-induced obesity (DIO) in C57BL/6 mice is the standard model for studying obesity in mice. The few reports of DIO utilizing voluntary running provide contradictory results with respect to prevention of obesity. However, total energy expenditures associated with voluntary running during DIO are unknown. We hypothesized that voluntary running would increase the amount of total energy expended during DIO. Female C57BL/6N mice were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups [high-fat diet with voluntary running (HFRun); high-fat diet without running (HFSed); and low-fat diet without running (LFSed)] for a 10-wk period. We confirmed production of obesity in HFSed, and more importantly demonstrated primary prevention of obesity by voluntary running in a group of cohorts (HFRun). Indirect calorimetry was performed to determine oxygen consumption (Vo(2)) and respiratory quotient (RQ). The following novel mechanisms were identified in female C57BL/6N mice: 1) HFRun showed ∼2 times greater total energy expenditures during a day compared with HFSed and LFSed; 2) HFRun had increased Vo(2) compared with HFSed and LFSed, lower RQ in the light period than HFSed, and lower RQ in both light and dark periods than LFSed; and 3) in the HFRun group, the magnitude of change in Vo(2) and RQ differed in dark and light periods during voluntary running. Our data combined with existing literature point to a potential threshold of physical activity that would prevent DIO in this mouse model. These data give a mechanistic explanation to resolve contradictory reports on whether voluntary running can prevent obesity in the DIO mouse model. In conclusion, voluntary running rescues high-fat fed, female C57BL/6N mice from obesity in DIO by doubling energy expenditure during the dark period and significantly increasing energy expenditure during the light cycle.

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