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Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 165, Issue 5, pp 384–395 | Cite as

Lipoprotein lipase activity and its relationship to high milk fat transfer during lactation in grey seals

  • S. J. Iverson
  • M. Hamosh
  • W. D. Bowen
Original Paper

Abstract

Lipoprotein lipase regulates the hydrolysis of circulating triglyceride and the uptake of fatty acids by most tissues, including the mammary gland and adipose tissue. Thus, lipoprotein lipase is critical for the uptake and secretion of the long-chain fatty acids in milk and for the assimilation of a high-fat milk diet by suckling young. In the lactating female, lipoprotein lipase appears to be regulated such that levels in adipose tissue are almost completely depressed while those in the mammary gland are high. Thus, circulating fatty acids are directed to the mammary gland for milk fat production. Phocid seals serve as excellent models in the study of lipoprotein lipase and fat transfer during lactation because mothers may fast completely while secreting large quantities of high fat milks and pups deposit large amounts of fat as blubber. We measured pup body composition and milk fat intake by isotope (deuterium oxide) dilution and plasma post-heparin lipoprotein lipase activity in six grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) mother-pup pairs at birth and again late in the 16-day laction period. Maternal post-heparin lipoprotein lipase activity increased by an average of four-fold by late lactation (P=0.027), which paralleled an increase in milk fat concentration (from 38 to 56%; P=0.043). Increasing lipoprotein lipase activity was correlated with increasing milk fat output (1.3–2.1 kg fat per day) over lactation (P=0.019). Maternal plasma triglyceride (during fasting) was inversely correlated to lipoprotein lipase activity (P=0.027) and may be associated with the direct incorporation of longchain fatty acids from blubber into milk. In pups, post-heparin lipoprotein lipase activity was already high at birth and increased as total body fat content (P=0.028) and the ratio of body fat: protein incrased (P=0.036) during lactation. Although pup plasma triglyceride increased with increasing daily milk fat intake (P=0.023), pups effectively cleared lipid from the circulation and deposited 70% of milk fat consumed throughout lactation. Lipoprotein lipase may play an important role in the mechanisms involved with the extraordinary rates of fat transfer in phocid seals.

Key words

Lactation Milk fat transfer Fat deposition Lipoprotein lipase Phocid seals 

Abbreviations

FFA

free fatty acid

HL

hepatic lipase

LPL

lipoprotein lipase

PH-HL

post-heparin hepatic lipase

PH-LPL

post-heparin lipoprotein lipase

VLDL

very low density lipoprotein

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. Iverson
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Hamosh
    • 2
  • W. D. Bowen
    • 3
  1. 1.Canadian Institute of Fisheries TechnologyTechnical University of Nova ScotiaHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Division of Developmental Biology and Nutrition, Department of PediatricsGeorgetown University Medical CenterWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Marine Fish DivisionBedford Institute of OceanographyDartmouthCanada

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