Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Physiol. 1996 Nov;271(5 Pt 2):R1101-6.

High plasma cholesterol, but low triglycerides and plaque-free arteries, in Mexican free-tailed bats.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biology, Boston University, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Female mammals typically become hyperphagic from mid- to late pregnancy and during lactation. Mexican free-tailed bats, Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana, double their nightly food intake from late pregnancy to peak lactation and consume an insect diet that is exceptionally high in fat. During late pregnancy and throughout lactation, fasting plasma levels of cholesterol in this insectivorous bat are high (215 +/- 8 mg/dl) and are nearly 10-fold higher than in three species of Old World frugivorous bats. Fasting triglycerides were unexpectedly low in T. brasiliensis (25 +/- 2 mg/dl), despite evidence of high fat intake during nightly feeding bouts (postprandial cholesterol and triglycerides, 268 +/- 18 and 122 +/- 20 mg/dl, respectively). High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels were extraordinarily high (124 +/- 5 mg/dl) and unaffected by feeding. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were correspondingly low (86 +/- 7 mg/dl). This unusual plasma lipid profile was not associated with coronary or aortic atherosclerosis, nor was there evidence of hyperglycemia or hyperinsulinemia. A high-fat diet and high levels of cholesterol in T. brasiliensis are not correlated with cardiovascular disease or (possibly) insulin resistance. Among several possible factors that might account for these observations, nightly bouts of powered flight (commuting and foraging for food) may contribute to elevated HDL cholesterol, which may protect this species from developing atherosclerosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk