Limits to sustained energy intake XXIX

the case of the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus)

Sarah A Ohrnberger (Corresponding Author), Catherine Hambly, John R Speakman, Theresa G Valencak (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Golden hamster females have the shortest known gestation period among placental mammals and at the same time raise very large litters of up to 16 offspring, which are born in a naked and blind state and are able to pick up food from days 12-14 only. We quantified energy metabolism and milk production in female golden hamsters raising offspring under cold (8°C), normal (22°C) and hot (30°C) ambient temperature conditions. We monitored energy intake, subcutaneous body temperature, daily energy expenditure, litter size and pup masses over the course of lactation. Our results show that, in line with the concept of heat dissipation limitation, female golden hamsters had the largest energy intake under the coldest conditions and a significantly lower intake at 30° (partial for influence of ambient temperature: F2,403=5.6; p= 0.004). Metabolisable energy intake as well as milk energy output showed the same pattern and were significantly different between the temperatures (partial for milk energy production: F1,40= 86.4; p<0.0001). With consistently higher subcutaneous temperatures in the reproductive females (F1,813= 36.77; p<0.0001) compared to baseline females. These data suggest that raising offspring in golden hamsters comes at the cost of producing large amounts of body heat up to a level constraining energy intake, similar to that observed in some laboratory mice. Notably, we observed that females seemed to adjust litter size according to their milk production with the smallest litters (3.4±0.7 pups) being raised by hot exposed mothers. Future research is needed to unravel the mechanism by which females assess their own milk production capabilities and how this may be linked to litter size at different ambient temperatures. Golden hamsters reach 8-10 times resting metabolic rate (RMR) when raising offspring under cold conditions, which is compatible with the findings from laboratory mice and other rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb183749
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume221
Issue number21
Early online date18 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Sep 2018

Fingerprint

Mesocricetus
Energy Intake
energy intake
Milk
milk production
Litter Size
litter size
energy
Temperature
ambient temperature
litters (young animals)
pups
milk
Energy Metabolism
litter
Hot Temperature
temperature
heat
Basal Metabolism
gestation period

Keywords

  • sustained energy intake
  • heat dissipation limitation
  • Golden hamster
  • Subcutaneous temperature
  • milk production

Cite this

Limits to sustained energy intake XXIX : the case of the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus). / Ohrnberger, Sarah A (Corresponding Author); Hambly, Catherine; Speakman, John R; Valencak, Theresa G (Corresponding Author).

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 221, No. 21, jeb183749, 18.09.2018, p. 1-9.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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note = "Our study was funded by a single funded grant to TGV from the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF), P 26 246- B17. JRS was supported by a 1000 talents award from the Chinese Government and a Wolfson merit award from the UK Royal Society.",
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AU - Valencak, Theresa G

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AB - Golden hamster females have the shortest known gestation period among placental mammals and at the same time raise very large litters of up to 16 offspring, which are born in a naked and blind state and are able to pick up food from days 12-14 only. We quantified energy metabolism and milk production in female golden hamsters raising offspring under cold (8°C), normal (22°C) and hot (30°C) ambient temperature conditions. We monitored energy intake, subcutaneous body temperature, daily energy expenditure, litter size and pup masses over the course of lactation. Our results show that, in line with the concept of heat dissipation limitation, female golden hamsters had the largest energy intake under the coldest conditions and a significantly lower intake at 30° (partial for influence of ambient temperature: F2,403=5.6; p= 0.004). Metabolisable energy intake as well as milk energy output showed the same pattern and were significantly different between the temperatures (partial for milk energy production: F1,40= 86.4; p<0.0001). With consistently higher subcutaneous temperatures in the reproductive females (F1,813= 36.77; p<0.0001) compared to baseline females. These data suggest that raising offspring in golden hamsters comes at the cost of producing large amounts of body heat up to a level constraining energy intake, similar to that observed in some laboratory mice. Notably, we observed that females seemed to adjust litter size according to their milk production with the smallest litters (3.4±0.7 pups) being raised by hot exposed mothers. Future research is needed to unravel the mechanism by which females assess their own milk production capabilities and how this may be linked to litter size at different ambient temperatures. Golden hamsters reach 8-10 times resting metabolic rate (RMR) when raising offspring under cold conditions, which is compatible with the findings from laboratory mice and other rodents.

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