Seasonal thermogenic acclimation of diurnally and nocturnally active desert spiny mice

Physiol Biochem Zool. Jan-Feb 2000;73(1):37-44. doi: 10.1086/316718.


Diurnally active golden spiny mice (Acomys russatus) and nocturnal common spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) coexist in hot rocky deserts of Israel. Diurnal and nocturnal activities expose these species to different climatic conditions. Nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) capacity of individuals of both species immediately upon removal from the field exhibited seasonal changes, with no significant interspecific difference. Colony-reared mice of either species transferred in the laboratory from long to short photoperiod increased NST capacity, though to a lesser extent than observed in the seasonal acclimatization. The underlying biochemical mechanisms of short photoperiod acclimation differed between the species. In both Cytochrome-c oxidase (Cox) activity was higher in short as compared to long photoperiod. In short-photoperiod-acclimated A. cahirinus uncoupling protein (UCP) content in brown adipose tissue (BAT) was significantly higher than in long photoperiod, while in A. russatus there was no significant change. In A. russatus there was a significant increase in lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity in BAT in short-photoperiod-acclimated individuals, while in A. cahirinus LPL activity was high under both acclimations. The low LPL activity in brown adipose tissue of desert-adapted A. russatus may facilitate lipid uptake in white adipose tissue, an advantage in desert conditions where food is scarce and irregularly distributed in space and time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization*
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / physiology
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Muridae / physiology*
  • Photoperiod
  • Seasons