Monodelphis domestica (Didelphidae: Marsupialia) lacks brown adipose tissue and thus relies on skeletal muscle as its primary thermogenic organ. Following cold exposure, the aerobic capacity of skeletal muscle in these animals is greatly increased. We investigated the effects of this plastic response to thermogenesis on locomotion and muscle mechanics. In cold-exposed animals, cost of transport was 15% higher than in controls but was unaffected by exercise training. Twitch kinetics in isolated semitendinosus muscles of cold-exposed animals were characteristic of slow-oxidative fiber types. Both time-to-peak tension and half-relaxation time were longer and maximal shortening velocity was slower following cold exposure compared to either thermoneutral controls or exercise-trained animals. Further, muscles from the cold-exposed animals had greater fatigue resistance than either control or exercise-trained animals, indicating greater oxidative capacity. Finally, we identified an uncoupling protein 3 homologue, whose gene expression was upregulated in skeletal muscle of cold-exposed Monodelphis domestica. Cold exposure provided a potent stimulus for muscle plasticity, driving a fast-to-slow transition more effectively than exercise training. However, linked to the dramatic shift in muscle properties is an equally dramatic increase in whole animal muscle energetics during locomotion, suggesting an uncoupled state, or 'training for inefficiency'.
- Monodelphis domestica
- Muscle mechanics
- Oxygen consumption
- Uncoupling protein 3
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)