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Animal. 2011 May;5(7):1124-30. doi: 10.1017/S1751731111000048.

Effect of dietary saponins from Quillaja saponaria L. on fatty acid composition and cholesterol content in muscle Longissimus dorsi of lambs.

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1University of Catania, Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agrarie e Alimentari, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95123, Catania, Italy.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of increasing levels of saponins from Quillaja saponaria on fatty acid (FA) composition and cholesterol content in muscle Longissimus dorsi of lambs. A total of 24 Barbarine lambs were assigned to four dietary treatments: control diet (C) consisting of oat hay ad libitum and 400 g of concentrate (80% barley, 17.5% soybean meal and 2.5% vitamin and mineral supplement); C diet plus 30 ppm of Q. saponaria L. (QS30); C diet plus 60 ppm of Quillaja (QS60); C diet plus 90 ppm of Quillaja (QS90). Saponin supplementation reduced the concentration of C14:1 cis-9 (P = 0.001) and of its desaturation index (P = 0.002). None of the FA intermediates of ruminal biohydrogenation (BH) was affected by Quillaja saponin supplementation (P > 0.05). The concentration of C20:4n-6 was higher in the meat of animals receiving 60 ppm of Quillaja than C and QS30 groups. Supplementing 60 ppm of Quillaja reduced the ratio between α-linolenic and linoleic acids compared with the C group (P = 0.023). We did not find any significant effect of Quillaja saponins on muscle cholesterol level. Further investigations are necessary to assess the metabolic fate of saponins in the rumen and to understand whether there is an effect of saponin on Δ9-desaturase enzyme activity, ruminal BH and cholesterol metabolism in ruminants. Supplementing up to 90 ppm of Quillaja saponins did not produce detrimental effects on the overall meat FA profile.


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