Metabolic mass, metabolic rate, caloric restriction, and aging in male Fischer 344 rats

Mech Ageing Dev. 2000 Jan 24;113(1):37-48. doi: 10.1016/s0047-6374(99)00094-9.


Previous investigators have found the metabolic rate to be the same in calorically-restricted and ad-libitum fed rodents, and hence concluded that the Rate of Living Theory does not help explain the longer lifespan of the calorically-restricted (CR) animal. However, these previous instigators may not have used reliable estimates of metabolic mass in their calculations of metabolic rate. Hence the present study investigated the reliability of ten different estimates of metabolic mass (MM) in 21-month-old male Fischer 344 rats fed three different diets to yield a wide range of body compositions. Two criteria were used to rank each estimate of metabolic mass: strong correlation with daily caloric intake (DCI); and zero Y-intercept on the regression curve of DCI versus the MM. The combined weight of the heart, liver, kidneys and brain (OW) was found to be the best estimate of MM. Statistical analysis of the differences in metabolic rate in the three groups of rats showed that the significance of these differences depended on the estimate of MM used. OW yielded different results than did fat-free mass (FFM), body weight (BW), BW(0.75), and BW(0.67). Therefore, because previous investigators used FFM, BW, BW(0.75), or BW(0.67), rather than a more reliable estimate such as OW, their finding that metabolic rate was not different in the CR and ad-lib groups, and their conclusion that the Rate of Living Theory does not help explain the longer lifespan of the CR animal, are called into question.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344