Although a number of obesity animal models have been reported, each model possesses different characteristics of obesity, suggesting care should be taken in choosing an animal model suitable for the experimental purpose. In this report, we fed 4-(young) and 52-week-old (middle-aged) C57BL/6J (B6) and young BALB/cA (BALB/c) mice with a high fat diet (HFD) for 9 weeks, and investigated the clinical and histological characteristics of obesity. In BALB/c mice, males gained more body weight and body fat weight and had higher energy intake than females by HFD feeding. Comparing the effect of HFD feeding between the strains of mice, BALB/c male mice accumulated more hepatic lipid than B6 male mice. In addition, middle-aged B6 mice increased the ratio of fat to body weight and hepatic lipid accumulation more than young mice. In conclusion, the characteristics of obesity induced by HFD feeding were influenced by the sex, strain and age of mice. Sex steroid hormones, hepatic lipid metabolism and systemic metabolism might be involved in these factors. The basic data in this study will be useful for the development of animal models of high fat diet-induced obesity.
Germfree mice died when they were fed a purified diet of AIN-76 formula sterilized by γ-irradiation. Vitamin K deficiency was suspected and this study was performed to confirm the cause of the death. Germfree mice were fed purified diets of AIN-76 or AIN-93M formula, which were pelleted and sterilized by γ-irradiation at a dose of 50 kGy. One half of the mice fed the AIN-76 diet died within two weeks and the surviving animals were also in poor health, while 91% of mice fed the AIN-93M diet survived. No hemorrhage was observed grossly in any organs of the surviving animals. Histologically, degeneration with inflammatory cell infiltration was observed as well as hemorrhage and fibrosis in the heart muscles of mice fed the AIN-76 diet. No microscopic lesions were observed in the other organs. Prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) were extremely prolonged when mice were fed the AIN-76 diet. The animals totally recovered when they were intragastrically administered 1 μg/day of vitamin K3 from the third day of feeding of the AIN-76 diet, except for PT and APTT which were still slightly longer than in mice fed the AIN-93M diet. The concentration of vitamin K3 supplied in the AIN-76 diet decreased to an undetectable level after γ-irradiation, while the AIN-93M diet contained 240 μg/kg of vitamin K1. These results indicate that the deaths of the germfree mice fed the γ-irradiated AIN-76 diet were caused by vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K deficiency may cause fatal degeneration of cardiac muscle cells.
The house musk shrew (Suncus murinus), or so-called suncus, is a cold-intolerant mammal, but it is unclear why it is susceptible to low temperatures. Cold-intolerance may be the result of lower thermogenic activity in brown adipose tissue (BAT). The early phase of severe cold exposure is a critical period for suncus. Therefore, we exposed suncus to mildly cold temperatures (10-12°C) for 1 to 48 h to increase non-shivering thermogenesis without causing stress and measured changes in the expression of uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1), type II iodothyronine 5'-deiodinase (Dio2=D2), and glucose transporter 4 (Slc2a4=Glut4) in BAT. These mRNAs play a major role in non-shivering thermogenesis and are mainly regulated by the sympathetic nervous system via direct β-noradrenergic innervation of BAT. During cold exposure, Ucp1 expression in BAT increased steadily over time, albeit only slightly. Neither D2 nor Glut4 expression in BAT increased immediately; however, they had increased significantly after 24 h and 48 h of cold exposure. These findings suggest that the responsiveness of mRNA regulation is weak and thus may be involved in cold-intolerance in suncus.
The genotype-phenotype relationship in mice was examined experimentally using one of the small eye mutants, Pax6Sey-4H, which deletes the chromosome 2 middle region, hemizygously. The genotyping indicated that the deleted region starts at a site 102.60 Mb from the centromere and has a length of 6.51 Mb, in which 12 known and 27 novel genes are located. Expecting the development of myeloid leukemia, gamma-irradiation was performed to female mutants at the age of 10 weeks. The mutants did not develop myeloid leukemia during the observation period of 18 months. Instead, they developed tumors in the alimentary tract spontaneously (56.0%). The tumor latency was shortened by the radiation exposure, but the tumor incidence of the gamma-irradiated group (62.5%) was as high as that of spontaneously developing tumors. Intraductal proliferation of the epithelium of the Wirsung duct was observed in the gamma-irradiated mutants (18.8%). Considering the results of the Pax6Sey-4H mutant together with those of another small eye mutant, Pax6Sey-3H, the anomaly and the tumorigenicity of the intestinal tract were closely related to the hemizygosity of the 3.2 Mb segment of chromosome 2, where both mutants show a common deletion.
The KCNQ1 gene encodes a voltage-dependent potassium ion channel, and mutations in this gene are the most common cause of congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS). In the present study, we investigated the various phenotypic characteristics of vertigo 2 Jackson (C3H/HeJCrl-Kcnq1vtg-2J/J) mice with a Kcnq1 mutation. Both heterozygotes (vtg-2J/+) and homozygotes (vtg-2J/vtg-2J) showed prolonged QT intervals in electrocardiograms (ECGs) compared to C3H/HeJ control (+/+) mice. Furthermore, vtg-2J/vtg-2J mice showed gastric achlorhydria associated with elevation of their serum gastrin levels. The serum corticosterone levels were also significantly increased in vtg-2J/vtg-2J mice. In addition, vtg-2J/vtg-2J mice exhibited significantly higher blood pressure. These findings indicate that the Kcnq1 mutation in vtg-2J mice alters various physiological functions in the cardiac, gastric and adrenocortical systems, and suggest that vtg-2J mice may represent a useful model for studying Kcnq1 functions.
p-Cresol is a metabolite of aromatic amino acid metabolism produced by intestinal microflora, and its formation is influenced by intestinal conditions. Fasting drastically changes intestinal conditions. However, the effect of fasting on p-cresol production is unclear. In this study, serum and cecal p-cresol levels were determined in non-fasted rats and in rats fasting for either 12 or 18 h. Serum p-cresol increased significantly with 12-h fasting (3.44 ± 2.15 nmol/ml; P<0.05) and 18-h fasting (5.40 ± 2.20; P<0.001) as compared to the level in the non-fasted rats (1.02 ± 0.50). Cecal p-cresol levels of the 12-h fasted (272.6 ± 313.2 nmol/cecum) and 18-h fasted rats (436.6 ± 190.8; P<0.01) were higher than those in non-fasted rats (27.1 ± 21.9). The total cecal protein in content did not change with 18-h fasting. However, the cecal protein concentration increased significantly with fasting (P<0.001), and correlated closely with total cecal p-cresol contents (P<0.001). These results indicate that fasting enhances p-cresol production in the rat cecum, resulting in accumulation of serum p-cresol. We presume that the increase in p-cresol produced by fasting is related to the enhancement of bacterial nitrogen metabolism via an increased concentration of endogenous protein in the cecum.
We have previously demonstrated that short-term exposure to hypergravity at 2G for 4 h induces expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in the mouse heart. Moreover, expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is also induced in the heart in a COX-2-dependent manner. Here, we demonstrate that long-term exposure of mice to 2G for 24 h resulted in a significant increase of serum VEGF level, although expression of COX-2 and VEGF in the heart decreased to the 1G-control level. Moreover, increase of serum VEGF was not suppressed by treatment with COX-2 inhibitor, indicating that VEGF was induced in a COX-2-independent manner. These results suggest that gravitational force contributes to maintenance of the serum VEGF level.
Ontogenetic changes of USVs were investigated to establish an index of stress in infant rats. The USVs were obtained by exposing infant rats to cold stress and were analyzed by real-time spectrography. USV waveforms consisted of four types, R-I, II, III and IV. These USVs were closely monitored at the age of 3-7 days in both sexes. From day 14, the frequency and incidence of USVs gradually decreased and had disappeared completely at the age of 21 days. Therefore, USVs should be useful in estimating the stress of infant rats between the ages of 3-7 days.