Fuel Use in Mammals: Conserved Patterns and Evolved Strategies for Aerobic Locomotion and Thermogenesis
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Effective aerobic locomotion depends on adequate delivery of oxygen and an appropriate allocation of metabolic substrates. The use of metabolic substrates during exercise follows a predictive pattern of lipid and carbohydrate oxidation that is similar in lowland native cursorial mammals. We have found that in two highland lineages of mice (Phyllotis and Peromyscus) the fuel use pattern is shifted to a greater reliance on carbohydrates compared to their lowland conspecifics and congenerics. However, there is variation between lineages in the importance of phenotypic plasticity in the expression of this metabolic phenotype. Moreover, this metabolic phenotype is independent of running aerobic capacity and can also be independent of thermogenic capacity. For example, wild-caught mice from a highland population of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) housed in warm normoxic laboratory conditions maintain higher maximum cold-induced oxygen consumption in acute hypoxia than lowland congenerics, but shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis is supported by high rates of lipid oxidation. This is reflected in the consistently higher activities of oxidative and fatty acid oxidation enzymes in the gastrocnemius of highland deer mice compared to lowlanders, which are resistant to hypoxia acclimation. While a fixed trait in muscle aerobic capacity may reflect the pervasive and unremitting low PO2 at high altitudes, muscle capacities for substrate oxidation may be more flexible to match appropriate substrate use with changing energetic demands. How shivering thermogenesis and locomotion potentially interact in the matching of muscle metabolic capacities to appropriate substrate use is unclear. Perhaps it is possible that shivering serves as "training" to ensure muscles have the capacity to support locomotion or visa-versa.
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