Mice selectively bred for high voluntary wheel-running behavior conserve more fat despite increased exercise

Physiol Behav. 2018 Oct 1:194:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.04.010. Epub 2018 Apr 20.


Physical activity is an important component of energy expenditure, and acute changes in activity can lead to energy imbalances that affect body composition, even under ad libitum food availability. One example of acute increases in physical activity is four replicate, selectively-bred High Runner (HR) lines of mice that voluntarily run ~3-fold more wheel revolutions per day over 6-day trials and are leaner, as compared with four non-selected control (C) lines. We expected that voluntary exercise would increase food consumption, build lean mass, and reduce fat mass, but that these effects would likely differ between HR and C lines or between the sexes. We compared wheel running, cage activity, food consumption, and body composition between HR and C lines for young adults of both sexes, and examined interrelationships of those traits across 6 days of wheel access. Before wheel testing, HR mice weighed less than C, primarily due to reduced lean mass, and females were lighter than males, entirely due to lower lean mass. Over 6 days of wheel access, all groups tended to gain small amounts of lean mass, but lose fat mass. HR mice lost less fat than C mice, in spite of much higher activity levels, resulting in convergence to a fat mass of ~1.7 g for all 4 groups. HR mice consumed more food than C mice (with body mass as a covariate), even accounting for their higher activity levels. No significant sex-by-linetype interactions were observed for any of the foregoing traits. Structural equation models showed that the four sex-by-linetype groups differed considerably in the complex phenotypic architecture of these traits. Interrelationships among traits differed by genetic background and sex, lending support to the idea that recommendations regarding weight management, diet, and exercise may need to be tailored to the individual level.

Keywords: Body composition; Fat; Selection limit; Spontaneous physical activity; Voluntary exercise; Wheel running.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics