2017 Volume 66 Issue 4 Pages 321-327
Daily torpor is a physiological adaptation in mammals and birds characterized by a controlled reduction of metabolic rate and body temperature during the resting phase of circadian rhythms. In laboratory mice, daily torpor is induced by dietary caloric restriction. However, it is not known which nutrients are related to daily torpor expression. To determine whether dietary protein is a key factor in inducing daily torpor in mice, we fed mice a protein-restricted (PR) diet that included only one-quarter of the amount of protein but the same caloric level as a control (C) diet. We assigned six non-pregnant female ICR mice to each group and recorded their body weights and core body temperatures for 4 weeks. Body weights in the C group increased, but those in the PR group remained steady or decreased. Mice in both groups did not show daily torpor, but most mice in a food-restricted group (n=6) supplied with 80% of the calories given to the C group exhibited decreased body weights and frequently displayed daily torpor. This suggests that protein restriction is not a trigger of daily torpor; torpid animals can conserve their internal energy, but torpor may not play a significant role in conserving internal protein. Thus, opportunistic daily torpor in mice may function in energy conservation rather than protein saving.