Effects of Supraphysiological Doses of Sex Steroids on Wheel Running Activity in Mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • The regulatory mechanisms of physical activity are postulated to include environmental and biological/genetic factors. In particular, the sex steroids appear to have profound effects on wheel running in rodents. The purpose of this project was to investigate the effects of 17-estradiol and testosterone on wheel running distance, duration, and speed in male and female C57BL/6J mice. The mice (N=46) were provided free access to running wheels interfaced with computers to track daily running distance, duration, and speed. Activity was assessed at baseline in intact mice, after surgical gonadectomy, and after replacement with either 17-estradiol or testosterone. Upon removal of the gonads, physical activity levels were significantly reduced in both males and females. Distance (10-30% of baseline) and duration (20-47% of baseline) measures were most affected by the loss of endogenous steroids, while running speed (60-77% of baseline) though significantly reduced-decreased by a much lower magnitude. Testosterone replacement fully recovered running distance, duration, and speed to pre-surgical levels in both sexes (100% of baseline). Distance (30-42% of baseline) and duration (43-47% of baseline) were partially recovered by 17-estradiol, but not to baseline levels. Speed (100% of baseline) was fully recovered by 17-estradiol replacement in males and females. This study suggests that physical activity in mice is affected by endogenous steroids and can be altered by exogenous steroid replacement. The differences in the recovery abilities of 17-estradiol and testosterone suggest that both estrogenic and androgenic pathways may be involved to variable degrees in activity regulation.

published proceedings

  • J Steroids Horm Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Bowen, R. S., Knab, A. M., Hamilton, A. T., McCall, J. R., Moore-Harrison, T. L., & Lightfoot, J. T.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Bowen, Robert S||Knab, Amy M||Hamilton, Alicia Trynor||McCall, Jennifer R||Moore-Harrison, Trudy L||Lightfoot, J Timothy

publication date

  • January 2012