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Br J Nutr. 1999 Oct;82(4):299-308.

Effects of dietary coconut oil on fatty acid oxidation capacity of the liver, the heart and skeletal muscles in the preruminant calf.

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  • 1INRA, Unité de Recherches sur les Herbivores, Centre de Recherches de Clermont-Ferrand/Theix, France.


The oxidative capacity of the liver, the heart and skeletal muscles for fatty acids were investigated in preruminant calves fed for 19 d on a milk-replacer containing either coconut oil (CO, rich in 12:0) or tallow (rich in 16:0 and 18:1). Weights of the total body and tissues did not differ significantly between the two groups of animals but plasma glucose and insulin concentrations were lower in the CO group. Feeding on the CO diet induced an 18-fold increase in the hepatic concentration of triacylglycerols. Rates of total and peroxisomal oxidation of [1-14C]laurate, [1-14C]palmitate and [1-14C]oleate were measured in fresh tissue homogenates. Higher rates of total oxidation in liver homogenate and of peroxisomal oxidation in liver, heart and rectus abdominis muscle homogenates were observed with laurate used as substrate. Furthermore, the relative contribution of peroxisomes to total oxidation was 1.9-fold higher in the liver and in the heart with laurate than with oleate or palmitate. Finally, the peroxisomal oxidation rate of oleate was 1.5-fold higher in the hearts of calves fed on the CO diet. Whatever the tissue, citrate synthase (CS, EC and cytochrome c oxidase (COX, EC activities were similar between the two groups of calves but the COX: CS activity ratio was lower in the liver of the CO group. In conclusion, laurate is better catabolized by peroxisomes than long-chain fatty acids, especially in the liver. Elongation of lauric acid after partial oxidation might explain the hepatic triacylglycerol accumulation in calves fed on the CO diet.

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