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Study on the effects of exercise and confinement on the calcium metabolism of the rat. Ross, Bruce H.


The experiment was designed to demonstrate the effects of exercise and confinement on the calcium metabolism of rats. A subsidiary purpose was to determine if any such effects are mediated by a humoral agent. Twenty-four male Sprague Dawley rats were divided into three groups. One group was exercised in motorized activity cages for one hour per day five days per week; one group was confined in small individual metabolism cages for 26 days and in body holders for 12 days; one group was housed in individual metabolism cages and served as controls. Half of the rats of each of the above three groups received 2 ml whole blood from rats similarly treated (exercised, confined or control), on each of the last five days of the experiment. Thus the exercised rats received blood from confined rats, the confined rats received blood from exercised rats and the control rats received blood from control rats. A calcium balance study was carried out for the last 26 days of the 38 day experiment and a calcium-45 balance study was carried out for the last six hours of the experiment. Thus the following specific parameters of calcium metabolism were measured: calcium balance, per cent calcium utilization, food intake, faecal calcium, urinary calcium, total carcass calcium, femur calcium, calcium-45 absorption and femur calcium-45. The entire experiment was performed twice and the data analyzed using a randomized complete block design analysis of variance. The exercise or confinement did not significantly alter the calcium metabolism of the male Sprague Dawley rat under the conditions of this study. Two possible conclusions were discussed. Either this experiment casts some doubt on the current concepts regarding immobilization and osteoporosis, or that the humane conditions adopted in this study did not successfully immobilize the rats. The present experiment also suggests that regular vigorous exercise may not affect the calcium metabolism of the rat to a greater extent than normal activity or mild exercise. No conclusions could be drawn about the role of the blood in regulating or controlling the effects of exercise or confinement on calcium metabolism.

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