University of Oulu

Niiranen L, Stenbäck V, Tulppo M, Herzig K-H, Mäkelä KA. Interplay between Learning and Voluntary Wheel Running in Male C57BL/6NCrl Mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2023; 24(5):4259.

Interplay between learning and voluntary wheel running in male C57BL/6NCrl mice

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Author: Niiranen, Laura1; Stenbäck, Ville1; Tulppo, Mikko1;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Biomedicine and Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, 90220 Oulu, Finland
2Pediatric Gastroenterology and Metabolic Diseases, Pediatric Institute, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 60572 Poznan, Poland
3Medical Research Center (MRC), Oulu University Hospital, 90220 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-08


Exercise is shown to improve cognitive function in various human and animal studies. Laboratory mice are often used as a model to study the effects of physical activity and running wheels provide a voluntary and non-stressful form of exercise. The aim of the study was to analyze whether the cognitive state of a mouse is related to its wheel-running behavior. Twenty-two male C57BL/6NCrl mice (9.5 weeks old) were used in the study. The cognitive function of group-housed mice (n = 5–6/group) was first analyzed in the IntelliCage system followed by individual phenotyping with the PhenoMaster with access to a voluntary running wheel. The mice were divided into three groups according to their running wheel activity: low, average, and high runners. The learning trials in the IntelliCage showed that the high-runner mice exhibited a higher error rate at the beginning of learning trials but improved their outcome and learning performance more compared to the other groups. The high-runner mice ate more compared to the other groups in the PhenoMaster analyses. There were no differences in the corticosterone levels between the groups, indicating similar stress responses. Our results demonstrate that high-runner mice exhibit enhanced learning capabilities prior to access to voluntary running wheels. In addition, our results also show that individual mice react differently when introduced to running wheels, which should be taken into consideration when choosing animals for voluntary endurance exercise studies.

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Series: International journal of molecular sciences
ISSN: 1661-6596
ISSN-E: 1422-0067
ISSN-L: 1661-6596
Volume: 24
Issue: 5
Article number: 4259
DOI: 10.3390/ijms24054259
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
Copyright information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (