Scariot, P. P., Gobatto, C. A., Polisel, E. E. et al. 2022. Early-life mice housed in standard stocking density reduce the spontaneous physical activity and increase visceral fat deposition before reaching adulthood. Laboratory Animals 56(4), 344-355.

Laboratory rodents spend the entire day housed in standard cages that provide a restricted area for movements and might, therefore, limit physical activity. However, it has not been tested in immature rodents of ages ranging from weaning to adulthood (adolescence period) whether the restricted area per animal does actually reduce physical activity and impact the body composition. We analyzed the spontaneous physical activity and feeding behavior during the adolescence of mice kept in two different housing conditions (standard stocking density (SSD) versus low stocking density (LSD)). We aimed to compare the body composition between SSD and LSD groups before they reached adulthood. Differential housing began at four weeks of age and was maintained for four weeks until euthanasia at eight weeks of age. The SSD group had a floor space of 88 cm2 available per animal, while LSD mice were housed with a floor space of 320 cm2 per animal, increasing the individual radius for movement more than three-fold compared with standard requirements. Mice kept in SSD exhibit lower spontaneous physical activity than mice kept in LSD. Early-life exposure to reduced physical activity in mice housed in SSD resulted in greater visceral fat accumulation before adulthood. An environment enabling/stimulating physical activity should be established for rodents as early as possible. This study will be helpful in showing that mice kept in SSD are early exposed to a reduced physical activity already in the adolescence period. Our findings could raise reflections about the translatability of rodents kept in SSD to healthy active humans.

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