Sex difference in thermal preference of adult mice does not depend on presence of the gonadsReport as inadecuate

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Biology of Sex Differences

, 8:24

First Online: 11 July 2017Received: 19 May 2017Accepted: 28 June 2017


BackgroundThe thermoneutral zone TNZ is a species-specific range of ambient temperature Ta, at which mammals can maintain a constant body temperature with the lowest metabolic rate. The TNZ for an adult mouse is between 26 and 34 °C. Interestingly, female mice prefer a higher Ta than male mice although the underlying mechanism for this sex difference is unknown. Here, we tested whether gonadal hormones are dominant factors controlling temperature preference in male and female mice.

MethodsWe performed a temperature preference test in which 10-week-old gonadectomized and sham-operated male and female C57BL-6J mice were allowed to choose to reside at the thermoneutral cage of 29 °C or an experimental cage of 26, 29, or 32 °C.

ResultsAll mice preferred a Ta higher than 26 °C, especially in the inactive phase. Choosing between 29 and 32 °C, female mice resided more at 32 °C while male mice had no preference between the temperatures. Hence, the preferred Ta for female mice was significantly higher 0.9 ± 0.2 °C than that for male mice. However, gonadectomy did not influence the Ta preference.

ConclusionsFemale mice prefer a warmer environment than male mice, a difference not affected by gonadectomy. This suggests that thermal-sensing mechanisms may be influenced by sex-specific pathways other than gonadal factors or that the thermoregulatory set point has already been determined prior to puberty.

KeywordsSex Gonadectomy Estrogen Progesterone Testosterone Thermosensing Body temperature regulation Thermogenesis Nesting behavior Dark-light cycle AbbreviationsBATBrown adipose tissue

BSABody surface area

BWBody weight


POAHPreoptic area of the anterior hypothalamus

TaAmbient temperature

TcCore body temperature


TNZThermoneutral zone

TPTTemperature preference test

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s13293-017-0145-7 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Kasiphak Kaikaew - Jacobie Steenbergen - Axel P. N. Themmen - Jenny A. Visser - Aldo Grefhorst


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