Liver and Heart Mitochondria Obtained from Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) Offers High Resistance to Lipid Peroxidation


Lipid peroxidation is generally thought to be a major mechanism of cell injury in aerobic organisms subjected to oxidative stress. All cellular membranes are especially vulnerable to oxidation due to their high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, birds have special adaptations for preventing membrane damage caused by reactive oxygen species. This study examines fatty acid profiles and susceptibility to lipid peroxidation in liver and heart mitochondria obtained from Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae). The saturated fatty acids in these organelles represent approximately 40–50% of total fatty acids whereas the polyunsaturated fatty acid composition was highly distinctive, characterized by almost equal amounts of 18:2 n-6; 20:4 n-6 and 22:6 n-3 in liver mitochondria, and a higher proportion of 18:2 n-6 compared to 20:4 n-6 and 22:6 n-3 in heart mitochondria. The concentration of total unsaturated fatty acids of liver and heart mitochondria was approximately 50% and 60%, respectively, with a prevalence of oleic acid CI 8:1 n9. The rate C20:4 n6/C18:2 n6 and the unsaturation index was similar in liver and heart mitochondria; 104.33 ± 6.73 and 100.09 ± 3.07, respectively. Light emission originating from these organelles showed no statistically significant differences and the polyunsaturated fatty acid profiles did not change during the lipid peroxidation process.


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We thank Med. Vet. César Arcemis for the excellent technical assistance in performing fatty acid analysis.

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Correspondence to Ana María Gutiérrez.

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Gavazza, M., Marmunti, M., Montalti, D. et al. Liver and Heart Mitochondria Obtained from Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) Offers High Resistance to Lipid Peroxidation. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 59, 185–194 (2008).

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  • Penguin
  • lipid peroxidation
  • liver
  • heart-mitochondria