, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 757-775

Constraint of Feeding by Chronic Ingestion of 1,8-Cineole in the Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

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Abstract

Eucalyptus leaf-eating marsupials such as the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) ingest large amounts of terpenes, especially 1,8-cineole (cineole)—the major component of many eucalyptus oils. Brushtail possums were acclimated to a non-Eucalyptus diet with increasing concentrations of cineole (0.5–4.0% wet weight) added over 18 d. We measured food and cineole consumption and urinary metabolites of cineole. Food intake decreased with cineole content, indicating that it was constrained by the maximum tolerable intake of cineole that was 3.8 ± 0.2 g kg−1 or 5.2 ± 0.3 g kg−0.75 (mean ± SE, N = 6). The pattern of metabolites was similar at all cineole intakes (56% hydroxycineolic acids, 27% cineolic acids, 13% hydroxycineoles, and 4% dihydroxycineoles). In another experiment, possums maintained on artificial diet were abruptly presented with 4% cineole for 5 d. Food intake fell by 45 ± 6% (mean ± SE, N = 6) and mean cineole intake was 2.9 ± 0.3 g kg−1. There was evidence of induction of secondary oxidative pathways, as hydroxycineoles were the major metabolites (48% total) on the first day, but rapidly dropped to 15% on subsequent days as the acid metabolites increased. These findings indicate that ingestion of cineole is not constrained by selective saturation of individual enzymes involved in its multiple pathways of oxidation, but rather the total detoxification capacity appears to limit feeding on a cineole diet.