Sex differences in response to activity-based anorexia model in C57Bl/6 mice

Physiol Behav. 2017 Mar 1;170:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.12.014. Epub 2016 Dec 12.


Anorexia nervosa is a severe eating disorder often associated with physical hyperactivity and is more frequently observed in female sex. Activity-Based Anorexia (ABA) model combines physical activity (PA) and reduced food intake and thus allows a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying anorexia nervosa. We aimed to assess sex differences in response to ABA model in C57Bl/6 mice. Twenty four male and 16 female C57BL/6 mice were studied. ABA mice were placed in individual cages with a continuously recorded activity wheel. ABA mice had a progressive limited food access from 6h/day (day 6) to 3h/day (day 9) until the end of the protocol (day 17). Body weight and food intake were daily measured. We studied physical activity during 24h, during the dark phase (D-PA) and the light phase (L-PA). We also evaluated the feeding anticipatory physical activity (A-PA), the physical activity during food intake period (FI-PA) and the post-prandial physical activity (PP-PA). We observed 16.7% of mortality in males (4 out of 24 mice) during ABA protocol while no female mice died (p=0.09). At day 17, food intake was significantly higher in females than in males (p<0.05) that was associated with a lower body weight loss than in females (p<0.05). Before limited food access, no gender differences in wheel running activity were observed. From day 9, A-PA significantly increased over time in males (p<0.05 vs females) while females exhibited higher FI-PA and PP-PA (p<0.05 vs males). Correlations between wheel running activities and, respectively, food intake and body weight loss showed gender differences, in particularly for L-PA and A-PA. Our results suggest a greater susceptibility of male mice to develop ABA, males and females exhibit different patterns of physical activity after limitation of food access. Underlying mechanisms should be further investigated.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anorexia Nervosa / mortality
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Body Weight
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Eating / physiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Photoperiod
  • Running / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics*