Jennie Stevenson, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Organismal performance directly depends on an individual’s ability to cope with a wide array of physiological challenges. For social animals, social isolation is a stressor that has been shown to increase oxidative stress. Another physiological challenge, routine locomotor activity, has been found to decrease oxidative stress levels. Because we currently do not have a good understanding of how diverse physiological systems like stress and locomotion interact to affect oxidative balance, we studied this interaction in the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster). Voles were either pair housed or isolated and within the isolation group, voles either had access to a moving wheel or a stationary wheel. We found that chronic periodic isolation caused increased levels of oxidative stress. However, within the vole group that was able to run voluntarily, longer durations of locomotor activity were associated with less oxidative stress. Our work suggests that individuals who demonstrate increased locomotor activity may be better able to cope with the social stressor of isolation.
2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Fletcher, Kelsey L.; Whitley, Brittany N.; Treidel, Lisa A.; Thompson, David; Williams, Annie; Noguera, Jose C.; Stevenson, Jennie; and Haussmann, Mark F. “Voluntary Locomotor Activity Mitigates Oxidative Damage Associated with Isolation Stress in the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster).” Biology Letters 11, no. 7 (2015 ).