Mouse running activity is lowered by Brucella abortus treatment: A potential model to study chronic fatigue

J. E. Ottenweller, B. H. Natelson, W. C. Gause, K. K. Carroll, D. Beldowicz, X. D. Zhou, J. J. Lamanca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Chronic fatigue syndrome, which can occur after acute infection and last for years, is characterized by severe and persistent fatigue. Others have reported decreases in mouse running activity following infection and have suggested this may provide an animal model for studying chronic fatigue. Voluntary running is a highly motivated activity in mice, which will often run 5-7 mi/day in our laboratory. Following 2 weeks of acclimation to running wheels with food and water available ad lib, female BALB/c mice received 0.2- mL tail vein injections of killed Brucella abortus (BA) or saline vehicle. Subsequently the effects on voluntary running and grooming behavior were determined. Injection of BA caused an immediate large decrease in running and a lack of grooming. Vehicle injections produced no changes in behavior. After the first several days of reduced running behavior, levels of running and grooming slowly returned back to normal over the next 2-4 weeks, with substantial individual differences in the rate of recovery. The pattern of running during recovery was intriguing in that BA mice first ran at normal levels just after the lights went out, but they stopped after only 1-2 h. As recovery proceeded, they gradually increased the duration of the running bout during the night. Because this model uses voluntary exertion and the ability to run for longer periods of time characterizes recovery, the model may be a good one for studying the biologic underpinnings of chronic fatigue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-801
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Brucella abortus antigen
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic model
  • Mouse
  • Running activity


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