Rodent Model of Activity‐Based Anorexia

Olaia Carrera1, Ángela Fraga1, Ricardo Pellón2, Emilio Gutiérrez3

1 Unidade Venres Clinicos, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, 2 Departamento de Psicología Básica I, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, 3 Departamento de Psicología Clínica y Psicobiología, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Galicia
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Neuroscience
Unit Number:  Unit 9.47
DOI:  10.1002/0471142301.ns0947s67
Online Posting Date:  April, 2014
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Activity‐based anorexia (ABA) consists of a procedure that involves the simultaneous exposure of animals to a restricted feeding schedule, while free access is allowed to an activity wheel. Under these conditions, animals show a progressive increase in wheel running, a reduced efficiency in food intake to compensate for their increased activity, and a severe progression of weight loss. Due to the parallelism with the clinical manifestations of anorexia nervosa including increased activity, reduced food intake and severe weight loss, the ABA procedure has been proposed as the best analog of human anorexia nervosa (AN). Thus, ABA research could both allow a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying AN and generate useful leads for treatment development in AN. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. 67:9.47.1‐9.47.11. © 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: activity‐based anorexia; physical activity; food restriction; self‐starvation; anorexia nervosa

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Table of Contents

  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
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Basic Protocol 1:

  • Male Sprague‐Dawley or Wistar rats, 160 to 180 g (minimum of 16)
  • Rat chow pellets (Harlan Teklad, cat. no. 2018S, or equivalent)
  • Room with control of ambient temperature and relative humidity [ambient temperature should be checked daily and temperature readings should be recorded in the experiment logbook; ambient temperature is a key parameter in ABA research (see Critical Parameters)]
  • Polycarbonate cages of the same dimensions depending on the wheel/cage set (48 × 28 × 20 or 28 × 28 × 14–cm) with mesh lids in which food can be placed and a water bottle inserted (all cages are lined with wood shavings)
  • Water bottles with rubber stoppers commonly used in animal husbandry
  • Identification tags for cages and running wheels
  • Top‐loading balance
  • Wahman‐type activity wheels (1.12‐m circumference and 10‐cm wide running surface of 10‐mm wire mesh bounded by clear Plexiglas walls) used to observe running activity
  • Computer and spreadsheet software
NOTE: We purchase the wheels from a Spanish company, Panlab, that imports them from Allentown ( As depicted in Figure , there are different assemblages of wheels with the living chamber. Either the wheel is mounted in the living chamber (polycarbonate cage 48 × 28 × 20–cm), or the wheel is attached to a cage (acrylic 28 × 28 × 14–cm) provided with a sliding door to allow communication between the running wheel and the cage.
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Literature Cited

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