Energy homeostasis and running wheel activity during pregnancy in the mouse

Physiol Behav. 2018 Oct 1;194:83-94. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.05.002. Epub 2018 May 5.


Pregnancy and lactation are metabolically challenging states, where the mother must supply all the energy requirements for the developing fetus and growing pups respectively. The aim of the current study was to characterize many aspects of energy homeostasis before and during pregnancy in the mouse, and to examine the role of voluntary activity on changes in energy expenditure during pregnancy. In a secondary aim, we evaluate measures of energy homeostasis during pregnancy in mice that successfully reared their litter or in mice that went on to abandon their litter, to determine if an impairment in pregnancy-induced adaptation of energy homeostasis might underlie the abandonment of pups soon after birth. During pregnancy, food intake was increased, characterized by increased meal size and duration but not number of meals per day. The duration of time spent inactive, predicted to indicate sleep behaviour, was increased both early and late in pregnancy compared to pre-pregnancy levels. Increased x + y beam breaks, as a measure of activity increased during pregnancy and this reflected an increase in ambulatory behaviour in mid pregnancy and an increase in non-ambulatory movement in late pregnancy. Energy expenditure, as measured by indirect calorimetry, increased across pregnancy, likely due to the growth and development of fetal tissue. There was also a dramatic reduction in voluntary wheel running as soon as the mice became pregnant. Compared with successful pregnancies and lactations, pregnancies where pups were abandoned soon after birth were associated with reduced body weight gain and an increase in running wheel activity at the end of pregnancy, but no difference in food intake or energy expenditure. Overall, during pregnancy there are multiple adaptations to change energy homeostasis, resulting in partitioning of provisions of energy to the developing fetus and storing energy for future metabolic demands.

Keywords: Activity; Energy expenditure; Food intake; Pregnancy; Running wheel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sleep / physiology