Small mammals are usually adapted to cope with changes in food quality and availability. In order to investigate the adaptive strategy of small rodents responding to varying dietary fiber content, in the present study, Apodemus chevrieri individuals were acclimated to a high-fiber diet for four weeks and then a relatively low-fiber diet for another four weeks. The results show that body mass was relatively stable over the course of acclimation, but dry matter intake, gross energy intake and the mass of the digestive tract increased significantly and digestibility decreased significantly in high-fiber diet mice, while the digestible energy intake was similar for both high-fiber and low-fiber diet mice except for the first week. High-fiber/low-fiber diet mice showed only a significant lower basal metabolic rate and nonshivering thermogenesis compared to low-fiber diet mice on day R1. The high-fiber diet induced a decrease in serum leptin levels and brown adipose tissue mass associated with a reduction in the cytochrome c oxidase activity and uncoupling protein 1 content of brown adipose tissue. Body mass, thermogenic capacity, energy intake, serum leptin levels and digestive tract morphology returned to the control levels after 4 weeks of refeeding low-fiber diet. Further, serum leptin levels were positively related to body fat mass and negatively related to food intake. These data indicated that body mass, energy intake, serum leptin levels and organ morphological plasticity were the main strategies by which A. chevrieri copes with variations in dietary fiber content.
Many small mammals respond to seasonal changes in photoperiod by altering body mass and adiposity. These animals may provide valuable models for understanding the regulation of energy balance. In the present study, we examined the effect on body mass, resting metabolic rate, food intake and body composition in cold-acclimated Apodemus draco by transferring them from a short to long day photoperiod. During the first 4 weeks of exposure to short days, A. draco’s body mass decreased. After the next 4 weeks of exposure to long days, body mass increased in the long day group compared to the short day group. This increase in body mass reflected significant increases in absolute amounts of body components, including wet carcass mass, dry carcass mass and body fat mass. Liver, kidney, and small intestine were enlarged due to longer photoperiod during cold exposure. A. draco increased its resting metabolic rate and energy intake after exposure to long days. Serum leptin levels were positively correlated with body mass, body fat mass, resting metabolic rate as well as energy intake. All of the results indicate that A. draco may provide an attractive novel animal model for investigation of the regulation of body mass and energy balance at the organismal levels. Leptin is potentially involved in the photoperiod-induced body mass regulation and thermogenesis of A. draco during cold exposure.
Environmental cues play important roles in the regulation of an animal’s physiology and behavior. In the present study, we examined the effects of short photoperiod on body weight as well as on several physiological, hormonal, and biochemical measures indicative of thermogenic capacity to test our hypothesis that short photoperiod stimulates increases in thermogenesis without cold stress in Apodemus chevrieri. A. chevrieri were randomly assigned to either a long or short photoperiod for 4 weeks at constant temperature. The short photoperiod group of A. chevrieri showed increases in resting metabolic rate and nonshivering thermogenesis during the 4-week photoperiod acclimation. At the end, A. chevrieri at short photoperiod had lower body weights, higher levels of mitochondrial protein content and cytochrome C oxidase activity in liver and brown adipose tissues, and had higher levels of mitochondrial uncoupling protein-1 contents in brown adipose tissues. No difference in serum leptin levels were found between short and long photoperiod groups, but serum leptin levels were positively correlated with body mass and body fat mass, and negatively correlated with energy intake and uncoupling protein-1 content in brown adipose tissues, respectively. All results suggest that the short photoperiod may induce an increased thermogenesis capacity in A. chevrieri and that leptin is potentially involved in the photoperiod induced body mass regulation and thermogenesis in A. chevrieri.
Environmental cues play important roles in the regulation of an animal’s physiology and behavior. The purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that ambient temperature was a cue to induce adjustments in body mass, energy intake and thermogenic capacity, associated with changes in serum leptin levels in Eothenomys miletus. We found that E. miletus increased resting metabolic rate (RMR) and energy intake and decreased body mass when exposed to cold while it showed a significant increase in body mass after rewarming. The increase in body mass after rewarming was associated with the higher energy intake compared with the control. Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) content in brown adipose tissue (BAT) increased in the cold and reversed after rewarming. Serum leptin levels decreased in the cold while increased after rewarming, associated with the opposite changes in energy intake. Further, serum leptin levels were positively correlated with body mass and body fat mass. Together, these data supported our hypothesis that ambient temperature was a cue to induce changes in body mass and metabolism. Serum leptin, as a starvation signal in the cold and satiety signal in rewarming, was involved in the processes of thermogenesis and body mass regulation in E. miletus.
Seasonal changes in an animal’s morphology, physiology, and behavior are considered to be an adaptive strategy for survival and reproductive success. We hypothesize that Apodemus chevrieri will change their thermogenesis seasonally and serum leptin will change with body mass or body fat mass. Seasonal variations in body mass (BM), basal metabolic rate (BMR), nonshivering thermogenesis (NST), digestive tract morphology, serum leptin and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) were measured in wild-trapped A. chevrieri in Hengduan mountain region. The results showed that the body weight of A. chevrieri was lowest in winter and highest in summer. Decreased BM in the winter was accompanied by increased energy intake and enhanced NST and UCP1 as well as by decreased body fat mass, adjusted digestive tract morphology and reduced levels of circulating leptin. Further, serum leptin were positively correlated with body weight and body fat mass, and negatively correlated with energy intake and UCP1 contents. These data suggest that wild A. chevrieri do not depend on a decrease in BM, but instead increase their thermogenic capacity to cope with cold stress. Leptin may be involved in the seasonal regulation in energy balance and thermogenesis in field A. chevrieri.
Phenotypic plasticity is the capacity for individuals to modify their phenotype in response to environmental changes. For example, variation in external and cranial characters have been documented in some small mammals and can result in controversy over classification, which has been the case for tree shrews for decades. However, there are few reports about external and cranial character variation in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). Here, such character variants of tree shrews were documented for 11 different sampling sites (Hainan, Daxin, Leye, Xingyi, Hekou, Kunming, Xichang, Dali, Pianma, Tengchong, Mengla) and for laboratory samples. The results showed that external and cranial characters of tree shrews significantly differed among regions, Hainan and Daxin populations were significantly larger than those of other populations, and Leye, Xingyi, Kunming and Xichang populations were smaller. The variation may be related to the habitat of tree shrews and our data may initiate new interest in morphological variants in small mammals. The presented detailed examination of the morphometric characters in tree shrews, and the exposed significant morphological differences among tree shrews, are expected to help in confirming their classification status.
To investigate the effect of fasting and re-feeding on energy metabolism and thermogenesis in the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri), the changes in body mass and body fat mass, resting metabolic rate (RMR), non-shivering thermogenesis (NST), body composition, mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity in liver and brown adipose tissue (BAT), uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) content of BAT, serum leptin level and post-fasting food intake were monitored and measured. The results showed that fasting induced a significant reduction in body mass and body fat mass. Body mass was restored to the control level in re-feeding tree shrew except for the body fat. RMR and NST decreased significantly in response to fasting, and returned to the control level after re-feeding. Fasting induced significant reduction in total, but not specific, COX activity (nmol O2/min/total tissue) in liver and BAT, and UCP1 content in BAT, which was reversed after re-feeding 48 h. Fasting of 12 h induced a rapid reduction in serum leptin content. There were no post-fasting compensatory increases in food intake. Interestingly, the tree shrew did not recover adipose tissue mass, nor serum leptin levels, upon re-feeding. These results suggest that T. belangeri can adjust the status of its physiology integratively to cope with the lack of food by means of decreasing body mass, adaptive thermogenesis and serum leptin levels, and serum leptin level acted as a starvation signal to mediate predominantly the reduction in body mass and energy expenditure.
Environmental cues play important roles in the regulation of an animal's physiology and behavior. The purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that ambient temperature was a cue to induce adjustments in body mass, energy intake and thermogenic capacity, associated with the role of the liver for adaptive thermogenesis in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri), a unique species of small mammals in the Oriental realm. Many targets were measured, such as the state 3 and the state 4 of mitochondrial respiration, the protein content of mitochondria of the liver in T. belangeri under prolonged cold acclimation (5±1°C, 12L : 12D light cycle) during different times [0 d (control), 7 d, 14 d, 21 d, 28 d]. We found the total protein, mitochondrial protein, and the state 3 and the state 4 of mitochondrial respiration of the liver greatly increased by 39.9%, 39.3%, 84.9% and 181.1% after 28 d in T. belangeri when exposed to cold, as compared with the controls, respectively. Thus, the liver plays a key role in the adaptive thermogenesis during cold acclimation in tree shrews; we believed that evidence from the physiological ecology is equally supportive of the island origin of tree shrews, T. belangeri.
Physiological adjustments are important strategies for small mammals in response to variation in food availability. To determine the physiological mechanisms affected by food restriction and refeeding, tree shrews were restricted to 85% of initial food intake for 4 weeks and refed ad libitum for another 4 weeks. Changes in food intake, body mass, thermogenesis, body composition, mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase activity, uncoupling protein-1 content in brown adipose tissue and serum leptin levels were measured. The results showed that body mass, body fat mass and serum leptin levels significantly decreased in food restricted tree shrews, and increased when the restriction ended, showing a short “compensatory growth” rather than over-weight or obesity compared with ad libitum controls. Resting metabolic rate, non-shivering thermogenesis, brown adipose tissue mass (mg), and uncoupling protein-1 content decreased significantly in response to food restriction, and returned to the control levels after the animals were refed ad libitum, while the brown adipose tissue mass (%) and cytochrome c oxidase activity remained stable during food restriction and refeeding. Food intake increased shortly after refeeding, which perhaps contributed to the rapid regaining of body mass. These results suggest that Tupaia belangeri can adjust the status of its physiology integratively to cope with the lack of food by means of decreasing body mass, thermogenesis and serum leptin levels. Leptin may act as a starvation signal to predominantly mediate the reduction in body mass and energy expenditure.
The set-point hypothesis states that there is a biological control method in mammals that actively regulates weight toward a predetermined set weight for each individual, which may occur by regulation of energy intake or energy expenditure. In order to investigate the effects of low temperature on body mass regulation in Eothenomys olitor, body mass, body fat mass, food intake, resting metabolic rate (RMR), non-shivering thermogenesis (NST), serum leptin levels, morphology, biochemical indexes of liver and brown adipose tissue (BAT) and hypothalamic neuropeptide genes expression were measured during cold acclimatization. The results showed that there was no significant difference in body mass, but food intake, RMR and NST increased during cold acclimatization. Cytochrome c oxidase (COX) and α-glycerophosphate oxidase (α-GPO) activities in liver and BAT were significantly enhanced during cold acclimatization, and triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) levels in serum were significantly higher than those in the control group. Serum leptin levels decreased after cold acclimatization. Low temperature significantly increased the expression of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related peptide (AgRP), while it decreased cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) expressions. All of the above results suggested that body mass in E. olitor can remain relatively stable at low temperature, which conforms to the ‘set-point hypothesis’. However, the species showed differences with sympatric species, such as E. miletus, Apodemus chevrieri and Tupaia belangeri. Moreover, E. olitor can cope with low temperature by increasing its metabolic rate and thermogenesis properties.