, 149:373 | Cite as

Seasonal thermogenesis and body mass regulation in plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae)

  • Jian-Mei Wang
  • Yan-Ming Zhang
  • De-Hua WangEmail author


Changes in photoperiod, ambient temperature and food availability trigger seasonal acclimatization in physiology and behavior of many animals. In the present study, seasonal adjustments in body mass and in several physiological, hormonal, and biochemical markers were examined in wild-captured plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) from the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. Our results showed that plateau pikas maintained a relatively constant body mass throughout the year and showed no seasonal changes in body fat mass and circulating levels of serum leptin. However, nonshivering thermogenesis, cytochrome c oxidase activity, and mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) contents in brown adipose tissues were significantly enhanced in winter. Further, serum leptin levels were positively correlated with body mass and body fat mass while negatively correlated with UCP1 contents. Together, these data suggest that plateau pikas mainly depend on increasing thermogenic capacities, rather than decreasing body mass, to cope with cold, and leptin may play a potential role in their thermogenesis and body mass regulation.


Basal metabolic rate Nonshivering thermogenesis Cytochrome c oxidase Leptin Plateau pika (Ochotona curzonia



We thank Dr Martin Klingenspor, Department of Biology, Philipps-University Marburg, for providing the hamster UCP1 antibody. Thanks to Ying-Nian Li, Northwest Plateau Institute of Biology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, for helping catch the animals and Dr Zuoxin Wang, Department of Psychology at Florida State University for his constructive suggestions and correcting the English of an earlier version of this manuscript. Thanks to Xing-Sheng Li and all the members of the Animal Physiological Ecology Group, Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, for helping with the experiments. We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 30430140) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (no. KSCX2-SW-103) (to D. H. W).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwest Plateau Institute of BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Graduate SchoolChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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