Limits to sustained energy intake. XVI. Body temperature and physical activity of female mice during pregnancy

Yuko Gamo, Amelie Bernard, Sharon E Mitchell, Catherine Hambly, Aqeel Al Jothery, Lobke M Vaanholt, Elzbieta Król, John R Speakman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Lactation is the most energy-demanding phase of mammalian reproduction, and lactation performance may be affected by events during pregnancy. For example, food intake may be limited in late pregnancy by competition for space in the abdomen between the alimentary tract and fetuses. Hence, females may need to compensate their energy budgets during pregnancy by reducing activity and lowering body temperature. We explored the relationships between energy intake, body mass, body temperature and physical activity throughout pregnancy in the MF1 mouse. Food intake and body mass of 26 females were recorded daily throughout pregnancy. Body temperature and physical activity were monitored every minute for 23 h a day by implanted transmitters. Body temperature and physical activity declined as pregnancy advanced, while energy intake and body mass increased. Compared with a pre-mating baseline period, mice increased energy intake by 56% in late pregnancy. Although body temperature declined as pregnancy progressed, this served mostly to reverse an increase between baseline and early pregnancy. Reduced physical activity may compensate the energy budget of pregnant mice but body temperature changes do not. Over the last 3 days of pregnancy, food intake declined. Individual variation in energy intake in the last phase of pregnancy was positively related to litter size at birth. As there was no association between the increase in body mass and the decline in intake, we suggest the decline was not caused by competition for abdominal space. These data suggest overall reproductive performance is probably not constrained by events during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2328-2338
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2013


  • animals
  • body temperature
  • body temperature regulation
  • body weight
  • eating
  • energy intake
  • energy metabolism
  • female
  • litter size
  • mice
  • motor activity
  • pregnancy
  • energy balance
  • reproductive performance
  • programming
  • food intake
  • activity
  • growth
  • compensation


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