Physical activity: Benefit or weakness in metabolic adaptations in a mouse model of chronic food restriction?

Mathieu Méquinion, Emilie Caron, Sara Zgheib, Aliçia Stievenard, Philippe Zizzari, Virginie Tolle, Bernard Cortet, Stéphanie Lucas, Vincent Prévot, Christophe Chauveau, Odile Viltart

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22 Citations (Scopus)


In restrictive-type anorexia nervosa (AN) patients, physical activity is usually associated with food restriction, but its physiological consequences remain poorly characterized. In female mice, we evaluated the impact of voluntary physical activity with/without chronic food restriction on metabolic and endocrine parameters that might contribute to AN. In this protocol, FRW mice (i.e., food restriction with running wheel) reached a crucial point of body weight loss (especially fat mass) faster than FR mice (i.e., food restriction only). However, in contrast to FR mice, their body weight stabilized, demonstrating a protective effect of a moderate, regular physical activity. Exercise delayed meal initiation and duration. FRW mice displayed food anticipatory activity compared with FR mice, which was strongly diminished with the prolongation of the protocol. The long-term nature of the protocol enabled assessment of bone parameters similar to those observed in AN patients. Both restricted groups adapted their energy metabolism differentially in the short and long term, with less fat oxidation in FRW mice and a preferential use of glucose to compensate for the chronic energy imbalance. Finally, like restrictive AN patients, FRW mice exhibited low leptin levels, high plasma concentrations of corticosterone and ghrelin, and a disruption of the estrous cycle. In conclusion, our model suggests that physical activity has beneficial effects on the adaptation to the severe condition of food restriction despite the absence of any protective effect on lean and bone mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E241-E255
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal model
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Food restriction
  • Physical activity
  • Physiological adaptation

Cite this

Méquinion, M., Caron, E., Zgheib, S., Stievenard, A., Zizzari, P., Tolle, V., Cortet, B., Lucas, S., Prévot, V., Chauveau, C., & Viltart, O. (2015). Physical activity: Benefit or weakness in metabolic adaptations in a mouse model of chronic food restriction? American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, 308(3), E241-E255.