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Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 19;7:40815. doi: 10.1038/srep40815.

Systemic regulation of L-carnitine in nutritional metabolism in zebrafish, Danio rerio.

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Laboratory of Aquaculture Nutrition and Environmental Health (LANEH), School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
Shanghai Key Laboratory of Regulatory Biology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences and School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.


Excess fat accumulation has been observed widely in farmed fish; therefore, efficient lipid-lowering factors have obtained high attention in the current fish nutrition studies. Dietary L-carnitine can increase fatty acid β-oxidation in mammals, but has produced contradictory results in different fish species. To date, the mechanisms of metabolic regulation of L-carnitine in fish have not been fully determined. The present study used zebrafish to investigate the systemic regulation of nutrient metabolism by dietary L-carnitine supplementation. L-carnitine significantly decreased the lipid content in liver and muscle, accompanied by increased concentrations of total and free carnitine in tissues. Meanwhile, L-carnitine enhanced mitochondrial β-oxidation activities and the expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 mRNA significantly, whereas it depressed the mRNA expression of adipogenesis-related genes. In addition, L-carnitine caused higher glycogen deposition in the fasting state, and increased and decreased the mRNA expressions of gluconeogenesis-related and glycolysis-related genes, respectively. L-carnitine also increased the hepatic expression of mTOR in the feeding state. Taken together, dietary L-carnitine supplementation decreased lipid deposition by increasing mitochondrial fatty acid β-oxidation, and is likely to promote protein synthesis. However, the L-carnitine-enhanced lipid catabolism would cause a decrease in glucose utilization. Therefore, L-carnitine has comprehensive effects on nutrient metabolism in fish.

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