The obese marathon mouse

Dummerstorf marathon mouse, Image from Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology

As the name implies, Dummerstorf marathon mice are bred to run. If allowed to be sedentary, these animals can build up quite a bit of fat within their peripheral tissues even if they do not overeat. If given an exercise wheel, however, they burn fat very quickly.

In a new study published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology - B, researchers discovered that the livers of these mice have an increased ability to not only store fat but to also rapidly mobilize fat when necessary for exercise. If they are able to identify genes or proteins that can turn on (or off) similar signaling pathways to promote fat mobilization and utilization in humans, the research may be relevant to the treatment of obesity or perhaps non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


Ohde D, Brenmoehl J, Walz C, Tuchscherer A, Wirthgen E, Hoeflich A. Comparative analysis of hepatic miRNA levels in male marathon mice reveals a link between obesity and endurance exercise capacities. Journal of Comparative Physiology B.

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