To eat or not to eat: The effect of AICAR on food intake regulation in yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris)

Gregory L. Florant, Ashley M. Fenn, Jessica E. Healy, Gregory K. Wilkerson, Robert J. Handa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Mammals that hibernate (hibernators) exhibit a circannual rhythm of food intake and body mass. In the laboratory during the winter hibernation period, many hibernators enter a series of multi-day torpor bouts, dropping their body temperature to near ambient, and cease to feed even if food is present in their cage. The mechanism(s) that regulates food intake in hibernators is unclear. Recently, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has been shown to play a key role in the central regulation of food intake in mammals. We hypothesized that infusing an AMPK activator, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide 1 B-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR), intracerebroventricularly (ICV) into the third ventricle of the hypothalamus would stimulate yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris) to feed during their hibernation season. Infusion of AICAR ICV into marmots at an ambient temperature of 22°C caused a significant (P<0.05) increase in food intake. In addition, animals stimulated to feed did not enter torpor during the infusion period. Marmots ICV infused with saline did not increase food intake and these animals continued to undergo torpor at an ambient temperature of 22°C. Our results suggest that AICAR stimulated the food intake pathway, presumably by activating AMPK. These results support the hypothesis that AMPK may be involved in regulating food intake in hibernators and that there may be common neural pathways involved in regulating feeding and eliciting torpor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2031-2037
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • AMPK
  • Appetite
  • Food intake
  • Hibernators
  • Torpor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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