Limits to sustained energy intake XXV: milk energy output and thermogenesis in Swiss mice lactating at thermoneutrality

Zhi-Jun Zhao, Li Li, Deng-Bao Yang, Qing-Sheng Chi, Catherine Hambly, John R. Speakman

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Previous studies at 21 °C and 5 °C suggest that in Swiss mice sustained energy intake (SusEI) and reproductive performance are constrained by the mammary capacity to produce milk. We aimed to establish if this constraint also applied at higher ambient temperature (30 °C). Female Swiss mice lactating at 30 °C had lower asymptotic food intake and weaned lighter litters than those at 21 °C. Resting metabolic rate, daily energy expenditure, milk energy output and suckling time were all lower at 30 °C. In a second experiment we gave mice at 30 °C either 6 or 9 pups to raise. Female performance was independent of litter size, indicating that it is probably not controlled by pup demands. In a third experiment we exposed only the mother, or only the offspring to the elevated temperature. In this case the performance of the mother was only reduced when she was exposed, and not when her pups were exposed, showing that the high temperature directly constrains female performance. These data suggest that at 30 °C SusEI and reproductive performance are likely constrained by the capacity of females to dissipate body heat, and not indirectly via pup demands. Constraints seem to change with ambient temperature in this strain of mouse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31626
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date24 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to Ke-Xin Chen, Song Tan and Jing Cao (Wenzhou University) for care of the animals. We thank Dr. Teresa G. Valencak (Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria) for her assistance with the body temperature measurements using the thermo-sensitive passive transponders. We thank Peter Thomson (University of Aberdeen) for his technical assistance with the isotope analysis for the DLW measurements. This work was supported by grant (no. 31270458) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, grant (pd2013374) from Zhejiang province, and grants (no. 14SK51A, 14SK52A) from Wenzhou University.


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