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J Dairy Sci. 2002 Mar;85(3):642-7.

Inhibition of fatty acid synthesis in bovine mammary homogenate by palmitic acid is not a detergent effect.

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Department of Animal and Poultry Science University of Guelph, ON, Canada.


Supplemental fat fed to dairy cows affects the fat composition of milk by reducing the yield of mammary synthesized fatty acids. The effect has been attributed to a potential allosteric inhibition of acetyl coenzyme-A, a key enzyme in fatty acid synthesis. In vitro experiments have demonstrated an inhibition of fatty acid synthesis when long-chain fatty acids are added to incubations. However, in vitro inhibition can result from a nonspecific detergent effect arising from an inherent physical property of fatty acids. An allosteric role for palmitic acid has not been tested in bovine mammary tissue. The objective of this experiment was to test the hypothesis that palmitic acid is an allosteric inhibitor of fatty acid synthesis in mammary tissue. We tested for a detergent effect by including a synthetic detergent, sodium dodecyl sulfate, under identical incubation conditions. A subcellular supernatant fraction of mammary tissue was used for incubations in the present experiment. The incubation system produced free fatty acids in a linear fashion for time and protein content. Results indicated that fatty acid synthesis was affected by the addition of palmitic acid to the incubations but not by caprylic acid, a short-chain fatty acid. Sodium dodecyl sulfate did not affect fatty acid synthesis at the concentrations used. The results of the present experiment indicate that palmitic acid inhibited fatty acid synthesis, and the effect was not the result of a detergent effect.

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