Modified control of breathing in genetically obese (ob/ob) mice

Clarke Tankersley, Steven Kleeberger, Bradley Russ, Alan Schwartz, Philip Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Attenuated hypercapnic chemosensitivity and hypoventilation are characteristics periodically associated with human obesity. We tested the hypothesis that ventilatory control is altered by genetic determinants and age-dependent factors that influence the obese phenotype. To this end, the magnitude and pattern of breathing were examined before and associated with the development of obesity in C57BL/6J mice homozygous and heterozygous at the ob gene locus. Breathing frequency and tidal volume were measured using whole body plethysmography, and minute ventilation was assessed during acute hypoxic and hypercapnic challenges with intermittent room air exposures. In age- and weight-matched mice before pronounced obesity, significant (P < 0.05) reductions in hypercapnic ventilatory sensitivity occurred in mutant (ob/ob) mice relative to wild-type (+/+) homozygotes primarily because of an attenuated tidal volume. Longitudinal studies indicated that mutant ob mice developed rapid baseline breathing relative to the wild type, accompanying a twofold greater increase in body mass. Early differences between homozygotes in hypercapnic ventilatory sensitivity were maintained through 230 days. These data demonstrate that genetic determinants at or closely linked to the ob locus influence hypercapnic ventilation before the emergence of pronounced obesity, whereas changes in baseline breathing appear due to age-dependent increases in body weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-723
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1996


  • aging
  • genetics
  • hypercapnia
  • hypoxia
  • ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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