Impact of genetic strain on body fat loss, food consumption, metabolism, ventilation, and motor activity in free running female rats.

Research paper by C J CJ Gordon, P M PM Phillips, A F M AF Johnstone

Indexed on: 26 Nov '15Published on: 26 Nov '15Published in: Physiology & Behavior


Chronic exercise is considered as one of the most effective means of countering symptoms of the metabolic syndrome (MS) such as obesity and hyperglycemia. Rodent models of forced or voluntary exercise are often used to study the mechanisms of MS and type 2 diabetes. However, there is little known on the impact of genetic strain on the metabolic response to exercise. We studied the effects of housing rats with running wheels (RW) for 65 days compared to sedentary (SED) housing in five female rat strains: Sprague-Dawley (SD), Long-Evans (LE), Wistar (WIS), spontaneously hypertensive (SHR), and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY). Key parameters measured were total distance run, body composition, food consumption, motor activity, ventilatory responses by plethysmography, and resting metabolic rate (MR). WKY and SHR ran significantly more than the WIS, LE, and SD strains. Running-induced reduction in body fat was affected by strain but not by distance run. LE's lost 6% fat after 21 d of running whereas WKY's lost 2% fat but ran 40% more than LE's. LE and WIS lost body weight while the SHR and WKY strains gained weight during running. Food intake with RW was markedly increased in SHR, WIS, and WKY while LE and SD showed modest increases. Exploratory motor activity was reduced sharply by RW in all but the SD strain. Ventilatory parameters were primarily altered by RW in the SHR, WKY, and WIS strains. MR was unaffected by RW. In an overall ranking of physiological and behavioral responses to RW, the SD strain was considered the least responsive whereas the WIS was scored as most responsive. In terms of RW-induced fat loss, the LE strain appears to be the most ideal. These results should be useful in the future selection of rat models to study benefits of volitional exercise.