Anxiety is correlated with running in adolescent female mice undergoing activity-based anorexia

Gauri S. Wable, Jung Yun Min, Yi Wen Chen, Chiye Aoki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activity-based anorexia (ABA) is a widely used animal model for identifying the biological basis of excessive exercise and starvation, 2 hallmarks of anorexia nervosa (AN). Anxiety is correlated with exercise in AN. Yet the anxiety level of animals in ABA has not been reported. We asked: Does food restriction as part of ABA induction change the anxiety level of animals? If so, is the degree of anxiety correlated with degree of hyperactivity? We used the open field test before food restriction and the elevated plus maze test (EPM) during food restriction to quantify anxiety among singly housed adolescent female mice and determined whether food restriction alone or combined with exercise (i.e., ABA induction) abates or increases anxiety. We show that food restriction, with or without exercise, reduced anxiety significantly, as measured by the proportion of entries into the open arms of EPM (35.73%, p = .04). Moreover, ABA-induced individuals varied in their open arm time measure of anxiety and this value was highly and negatively correlated to the individual's food restriction-evoked wheel activity during the 24 hr following the anxiety test (R =-.75, p = .004, N = 12). This correlation was absent among the exercise-only controls. In addition, mice with higher increase in anxiety ran more following food restriction. Our data suggest that food restriction-evoked wheel running hyperactivity can be used as a reliable and continuous measure of anxiety in ABA. The parallel relationship between anxiety level and activity in AN and ABA-induced female mice strengthens the animal model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-182
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Activity-based anorexia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety
  • Exercise
  • Food restriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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