Prolonged Effects of Elevated 17β-Estradiol on Physical Activity after Orchidectomy

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prolonged effects of estrogen on wheel running distance, duration, and speed in orchidectomized mice.


The physical activity patterns of 9-wk-old C57BL/6j male mice (n = 28) were observed. Wheel running distance, duration, and speed were assessed under physiological conditions for 7 d. Next, physical activity patterns were evaluated after bilateral orchidectomy (n = 14) or sham orchidectomy (n = 14) for an additional 7 d. Orchidectomized mice were provided estrogen containing capsules for three additional weeks; control mice were provided estrogen-free capsules. Wheel running distance, duration, and speed were analyzed by three two-way (treatment group–phase of study) analysis of variance tests.


Wheel running speed was unaffected by sex hormone status. Distance (mean ± SD = 6.74 ± 2.13 km at baseline) decreased significantly after orchidectomy (2.27 ± 1.55 km) and remained low after initial estrogen treatment (3.04 ± 1.05 km). Prolonged estrogen exposure sustained a significant elevation of daily distance (4.47 ± 1.87 km). Prolonged estrogen exposure recovered and significantly sustained wheel running duration (baseline, 248 ± 60 min; postorchidectomy, 102 ± 53 min; prolonged exposure, 170 ± 63 min).


Wheel running behavior was reduced significantly after orchidectomy and remained low after initial treatment with estrogens, but recovered to near control levels after 2 wk of exposure to estrogens. The estrogenic mechanism regulating wheel running behavior in male mice appears to induce an extensive but slow acting biological mechanism. Understanding the biological drive behind this mechanism may aid in developing useful therapeutic strategies to combat health issues related to physical inactivity.

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