The social behavior of male rats administered an adult-onset calorie restriction regimen Academic Article uri icon


  • The behavioral outcomes of a calorie restricted diet are often neglected in favour of a more physiological examination of the consequences of calorie restriction (CR). This is especially the case with social behavior. A few findings within the maternal CR literature suggest that adult male social behavior is altered by this regimen. Despite the paucity of findings within the maternal CR literature, a systematic investigation of the behavioral phenotype of males administered an adult-onset CR is completely lacking and was the focus of the current study. Adult male hooded Wistar rats were administered a three week CR, with one group receiving a 25% CR and another group receiving a 50% CR before male-to-male social behavior was examined and compared with ad libitium fed males. Various behavioral elements were modulated by CR, both the CR25% and 50% group initiated contact sooner and engaged in greater social activity compared to the ad libitum fed controls. The CR25% group also demonstrated less non-social (self-grooming) behavior and a greater frequency of walkovers compared to all groups, indicating a propensity towards dominance. The CR50% group demonstrated greater environmental assessment/exploration, as measured by the frequency of rearing. As with the maternal CR literature, an adult-onset chronic CR induces a more socially active behavioral phenotype and reduces interest in non-social behavior in the moderately CR group. Taken together, the social behavioral phenotype can be modulated by a CR initiated and maintained during adulthood.

publication date

  • March 2009