New Findings: What is the central question of this study? Non-invasive muscle function tests have not been validated for use in the study of muscle performance in high-fat-fed mice. What is the main finding and its importance? This study shows that grip strength, hang wire and four-limb hanging tests are able to discriminate the muscle performance between chow-fed and high-fat-fed mice at different time points, with grip strength being reliable after 5, 10 and 20 weeks of dietary intervention.
Non-invasive tests are commonly used for assessing muscle function in animal models. The value of these tests in obesity, a condition where muscle strength is reduced, is unclear. We investigated the utility of three non-invasive muscle function tests, namely grip strength (GS), hang wire (HW) and four-limb hanging (FLH), in C57BL/6 mice fed chow (chow group, n = 48) or a high-fat diet (HFD group, n = 48) for 20 weeks. Muscle function tests were performed at 5, 10 and 20 weeks. After 10 and 20 weeks, HFD mice had significantly reduced GS (in newtons; mean ± SD: 10 weeks chow, 1.89 ± 0.1 and HFD, 1.79 ± 0.1; 20 weeks chow, 1.99 ± 0.1 and HFD, 1.75 ± 0.1), FLH [in seconds per gram body weight; median (interquartile range): 10 weeks chow, 2552 (1337-4964) and HFD, 1230 (749-1994); 20 weeks chow, 2048 (765-3864) and HFD, 1036 (717-1855)] and HW reaches [n; median (interquartile range): 10 weeks chow, 4 (2-5) and HFD, 2 (1-3); 20 weeks chow, 3 (1-5) and HFD, 1 (0-2)] and higher falls [n; median (interquartile range): 10 weeks chow, 0 (0-2) and HFD, 3 (1-7); 20 weeks chow, 1 (0-4) and HFD, 8 (5-10)]. Grip strength was reliable in both dietary groups [intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.5-0.8; P < 0.05], whereas FLH showed good reliability in chow (ICC = 0.7; P < 0.05) but not in HFD mice after 10 weeks (ICC < 0.5). Our data demonstrate that non-invasive muscle function tests are valuable and reliable tools for assessment of muscle strength and function in high-fat-fed mice.