Altered dopaminergic profiles: implications for the regulation of voluntary physical activity. Academic Article uri icon


  • The biological regulating factors of physical activity in animals are not well understood. This study investigated differences in the central mRNA expression of seven dopamine genes (Drd1, Drd2, Drd3, Drd4, Drd5, TH, and DAT) between high active C57/LJ (n=17) male mice and low active C3H/HeJ (n=20) male mice, and between mice with access to a running wheel and without running wheel access within strain. Mice were housed with running wheels interfaced with a computer for 21 days with distance and duration recorded every 24 h. On day 21, the striatum and nucleus accumbens were removed during the active period (approximately 9 pm) for dopaminergic analysis. On average, the C57L/J mice with wheels ran significantly farther (10.25+/-1.37 km/day vs. 0.01+/-0.09 km/day, p<0.001), longer (329.73+/-30.52 min/day vs. 7.81+/-6.32 min/day, p<0.001), and faster (31.27+/-3.13 m/min vs. 11.81+/-1.08 m/min, p<0.001) than the C3H/HeJ mice with wheels over the 21 day period. No differences in gene expression were found between mice in either strain with wheels and those without wheels suggesting that access to running wheels did not alter dopaminergic expression. In contrast, relative expression for two dopamine genes was significantly lower in the C57L/J mice compared to the C3H/HeJ mice. These results indicate that decreased dopaminergic functioning is correlated with increased activity levels in C57L/J mice and suggests that D1-like receptors as well as tyrosine hydroxylase (an indicator of dopamine production), but not D2-like receptors may be associated with the regulation of physical activity in inbred mice.

published proceedings

  • Behav Brain Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Knab, A. M., Bowen, R. S., Hamilton, A. T., Gulledge, A. A., & Lightfoot, J. T.

citation count

  • 71

complete list of authors

  • Knab, Amy M||Bowen, Robert S||Hamilton, Alicia T||Gulledge, Alyssa A||Lightfoot, J Timothy

publication date

  • December 2009