The shift of thermoneutral zone in striped hamster acclimated to different temperatures

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 6;9(1):e84396. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084396. eCollection 2014.


Temperature affects all biological functions and will therefore modulate ecologically significant interactions between animals and their environment. Here, we examined the effect of ambient temperature (Ta) on the thermal biology and energy budget in striped hamsters acclimated to cold (5°C), warm (21°C) and hot temperatures (31°C). Thermoneutral zone (TNZ) was 22.5-32.5°C, 25-32.5°C and 30-32.5°C in the cold-, warm- and hot-acclimated hamsters, respectively. The cold acclimation decreased the lower critical temperature and made the TNZ wider, and hot exposure elevated the lower critical temperature, resulting in a narrow TNZ. Within the TNZ, cold-acclimated hamsters showed a significantly higher rate of metabolism and thermogenesis than those acclimated to hot temperature. Digestive enzymes activities, including intestinal sucrase, maltase, L-alanine aminopeptidase-N and leucine aminopeptidase were higher in the cold than in the hot. The changes in metabolic rate and thermogenesis at different temperatures were in parallel with cytochrome c oxidase activity and uncoupling protein 1 gene expression of brown adipose tissue. This suggests that the shift of the lower critical temperature of TNZ is possibly associated with the rate of metabolism and thermogenesis, as well as with the digestive capacity of the gastrointestinal tract at different Ta. The upper critical temperature of TNZ may be independent of the changes in Ta. The changes of lower critical temperature of TNZ are an important strategy in adaption to variations of Ta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology*
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Cricetinae
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Temperature*
  • Thermogenesis / physiology


  • Electron Transport Complex IV

Grant support

This work was funded the State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents (no. ChineseIPM1209) and also partly supported by grants (no. 31270458 and 31070367) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China to ZJZ. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.