Cost of transport is increased after cold exposure in Monodelphis domestica: Training for inefficiency

Paul J. Schaeffer, Jason J. Villarin, David J. Pierotti, Daniel P. Kelly, Stan L. Lindstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


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'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3159-3167
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Locomotion
  • Marsupial
  • Monodelphis domestica
  • Muscle mechanics
  • Oxygen consumption
  • Thermogenesis
  • Uncoupling protein 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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