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J Nutr Biochem. 1999 Jun;10(6):325-30.

Coconut oil induces short-term changes in lipid composition and enzyme activity of chick hepatic mitochondria.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.


We studied the short-term effects of a 20% coconut oil supplementation to the chick diet on lipid composition of liver and hepatic mitochondria, and changes that occurred in mitochondrial-associated enzymes as a result of this diet. No significant differences were observed in the lipid contents of liver when young chicks were fed the experimental diet, whereas hepatic mitochondria rapidly changed in response to this diet. Total cholesterol significantly increased in mitochondria at 24 hours of coconut oil diet feeding and decreased when dietary treatment was prolonged for 5 to 14 days. Changes in total mitochondrial phospholipids showed an inverse profile. A significant decrease in phosphatidylethanolamine and an increase in sphingomyelin were found at 24 hours. The cholesterol/phospholipid molar ratio significantly and rapidly (24 hours) increased in mitochondria from treated animals. Cytochrome oxidase activity drastically increased after 24 hours of experimental diet feeding and lowered to the control values when dietary manipulation was prolonged for 5 to 14 days. ATPase activity showed an inverse profile. Changes in cytochrome oxidase activity were parallel to changes in the cholesterol/phospholipid molar ratio, whereas changes in ATPase activity showed an inverse correlation with changes in this molar ratio. To our knowledge, this is one of the first reports on the very rapid response (24 hours) of mitochondrial lipid composition and function to saturated fat feeding.


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