, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 365-379

Oxygen consumption and ventilatory reflex responses are influenced by dietary lipids in sturgeon

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The effects of one year's feeding with diets enriched either in highly unsaturated fatty acids of the w3 series (w3 HUFA) (fish oil-supplemented diet, FOD) or in saturated fatty acids (SFA) (coconut oil-supplemented diet, COD) on fatty acid composition of tissue lipids, on patterns of resting oxygen consumption and on responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia were investigated in the Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii). FOD sturgeon had higher levels of w3 HUFA in liver and muscle lipids than COD fish, which had higher levels of SFA. A frequency distribution of instantaneous oxygen uptake rates (M]O2), as measured every 10 min for 8 h, revealed a different pattern of resting oxygen consumption between the two groups. The FOD sturgeon consumed oxygen in a narrow range of low rates, with a lower mean M]O2 than COD sturgeon, which showed a wide range of more elevated rates. FOD sturgeon had a lower opercular pressure amplitude than COD fish in normoxia. Exposure to three levels of hypoxia PO2s = 10.8±0.2; 6.6±0.2 and 4.6±0.2 kPa) or mild hypercapnia (PCO2 = 1.0±0.2 kPa) did not affect ventilation in FOD fish but elicited hyperventilation in COD animals. Mild hypoxia (PO2 = 10.8±0.2 kPa) and hypercapnia caused less reduction in blood oxygen content in FOD as compared with COD sturgeon. The effects of adding vitamin E supplements to the diets was investigated; groups fed vitamin E supplements had elevated M]O2 and hyperventilated in hypoxia. The data indicate that dietary fatty acid composition influences resting M]O2 in sturgeon and that this influences the regulation of ventilation and blood O2 levels in hypoxia and hypercapnia. The low resting M]O2 of fish fed w3 HUFA supplements (the FOD group) obviated the need for hyperventilation in hypoxia or hypercapnia, thereby making them less sensitive to these stresses than sturgeon fed SFA (COD group) or sturgeon fed either diet supplemented with vitamin E.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.