Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 181, Issue 6, pp 807–816 | Cite as

Dietary fatty acid composition influences tissue lipid profiles and regulation of body temperature in Japanese quail

  • Miriam Ben-Hamo
  • Marshall D. McCue
  • Scott R. McWilliams
  • Berry Pinshow
Original Paper


Many avian species reduce their body temperature (T b) to conserve energy during periods of inactivity, and we recently characterized how ambient temperature (T a) and nutritional stress interact with one another to influence physiologically controlled hypothermic responses in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). In the present study, we examined how the fatty acid (FA) composition of the diet influences the FA composition of phospholipids in major organs and how these affect controlled hypothermic responses and metabolic rates in fasted birds. For 5 weeks prior to fasting, quail were fed a standard diet and gavaged each morning with 0.7 ml of water (control), or a vegetable oil comprising saturated fatty acids (SFA; coconut oil), or unsaturated fatty acids (UFA; canola oil). Birds were then fasted for 4 days at a T a of 15°C. We found that, while fasting, both photophase and scotophase T b decreased significantly more in the SFA treatment group than in the control group; apparently the former down-regulated their T b set point. This deeper hypothermic response was correlated with changes in the phospholipid composition of the skeletal muscle and liver, which contained significantly more oleic acid (18:1) and less arachidonic acid (20:4), respectively. Our data imply that these two FAs may be associated with thermoregulation.


Birds Heterothermy Oxygen consumption Fasting Temperature regulation 



We are grateful to Shoshanna Didi-Cohen and Dr. Inna Khozin-Goldberg for help with GC analyses of fatty acid methyl esters. This project was funded by US–Israel Binational Science Foundation Grant 2005119 to B. Pinshow and S. R. McWilliams. During the study M.D. McCue was a Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellow and M. Ben-Hamo was the recipient of a Negev Fellowship. This study was done under the auspices of the animal care and ethics committee of Ben Gurion University. This is paper #697 of the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam Ben-Hamo
    • 1
  • Marshall D. McCue
    • 1
    • 3
  • Scott R. McWilliams
    • 2
  • Berry Pinshow
    • 1
  1. 1.Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevMidreshet Ben-GurionIsrael
  2. 2.Department Natural Resources ScienceUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologySt. Mary’s UniversitySan AntonioUSA

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