Metabolic heat production, heat loss and the circadian rhythm of body temperature in the rat

Exp Physiol. 2003 May;88(3):423-9. doi: 10.1113/eph8802521.


Metabolic heat production (calculated from oxygen consumption), dry heat loss (measured in a calorimeter) and body temperature (measured by telemetry) were recorded simultaneously at 6 min intervals over five consecutive days in rats maintained in constant darkness. Robust circadian rhythmicity (confirmed by chi square periodogram analysis) was observed in all three variables. The rhythm of heat production was phase-advanced by about half an hour in relation to the body temperature rhythm, whereas the rhythm of heat loss was phase-delayed by about half an hour. The balance of heat production and heat loss exhibited a daily oscillation 180 deg out of phase with the oscillation in body temperature. Computations indicated that the amount of heat associated with the generation of the body temperature rhythm (1.6 kJ) corresponds to less than 1 % of the total daily energy budget (172 kJ) in this species. Because of the small magnitude of the fraction of heat balance associated with the body temperature rhythm, it is likely that the daily oscillation in heat balance has a very slow effect on body temperature, thus accounting for the 180 deg phase difference between the rhythms of heat balance and body temperature.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Telemetry