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Physiol Behav. 2005 Mar 31;84(4):651-7.

Fish macronutrient selection through post-ingestive signals: effect of selective macronutrient deprivation.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Biology, University of Murcia, Campus de Espinardo, 30100-Murcia, Spain.


Recent reports describe teleosts as being able to regulate energy intake by selecting from pure macronutrient sources, although the regulatory mechanisms involved in this selection remain unknown. The aim of the present work was to determine the effect of selective macronutrient deprivation on energy regulation and macronutrient selection, using for this purpose carbohydrate (CH), protein (P), and fat (F) packaged separately into gelatin capsules, a method that prevents the diet chemosensory properties at oropharyngeal level from interfering with macronutrient selection. Twenty-four individually housed sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) were subjected to two experiments: (a) two-macronutrient deprivation, and (b) one-macronutrient deprivation. In two-macronutrient deprivation, fish were fed sequentially with P, CH, or F, and in one-macronutrient deprivation, they were fed sequentially with two separately packaged macronutrients (P and CH, CH and F, or P and F). There was a rapid reduction of macronutrient intake in two-macronutrient deprivation, reaching 80% inhibition after 4, 5, and 7 days of P, CH, and F intake, respectively. In one-macronutrient deprivation, the energy intake was significantly reduced during selective F deprivation, but not with P or CH deprivation. Although the fish were being fed with only two macronutrients, the relative proportions of these macronutrients in each selective deprivation phase were the same as the baseline. These results show that in deprivation studies fish need at least F plus one other macronutrient to regulate their energy intake, and that their macronutrient selection is stable even when one is absent. In summary, fish seem to regulate energy and macronutrient selection through post-ingestive mechanisms probably involving chemosensory detection in the gut, and/or post-absorptive mechanisms.

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