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Mobilisation of blubber fatty acids of northern elephant seal pups (Mirounga angustirostris) during the post-weaning fast
Louis, C.; Perdaens, L.; Suciu, S.; Tavoni, S.; Crocker, D.; Debier, C. (2015). Mobilisation of blubber fatty acids of northern elephant seal pups (Mirounga angustirostris) during the post-weaning fast. Comp. Biochem. Physiol., Part A Mol. Integr. Physiol. 183: 78-86. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2015.01.008
In: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A. Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 1095-6433, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Mirounga angustirostris Gill, 1866 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Northern elephant seal; Fast; Blubber; Serum; Mobilisation; Fatty acids

Authors  Top 
  • Tavoni, S.
  • Crocker, D.
  • Debier, C., more

Abstract
    Northern elephant seal pups were longitudinally sampled at Ano Nuevo State Reserve during the post-weaning fast, in order to evaluate the changes of fatty acid (FA) profiles in serum as well as in the inner and outer layers of blubber. The major FAs of inner and outer blubber layers were broadly similar to those found in NES maternal milk previously measured, suggesting a direct deposit of dietary FAs in the blubber during the suckling period. The outer blubber layer contained more medium-chain monounsaturated FAs that contribute in keeping the fluidity of this tissue at cold temperatures. It was compensated by higher proportions of saturated FAs in the inner blubber layer. The FA signature of inner blubber, the layer that is mainly mobilised during energy deprivation, slightly differed from the signature of serum. There were greater proportions of medium-chain saturated FAs and omega-6 polyunsaturated FAs, and lower proportions of long-chain saturated FAs, medium-chain monounsaturated FAs and long-chain monounsaturated FAs in serum as compared to inner blubber. We also demonstrated that lipophilicity is the main factor governing the mobilisation of FAs from blubber. The least lipophilic FAs were preferentially hydrolysed from blubber, leading to an enrichment of the more lipophilic FAs in this tissue with the progression of the fast. The expression levels of HSL and ATGL, which are two enzymes involved in the lipolytic process, remained stable during the post-weaning fast. This suggests that the pups have developed the enzymatic mechanisms for an efficient lipolysis as soon as the first week of fast.

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