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Reprod Nutr Dev. 1985;25(1B):303-19.

Fatty acid oxidation and ketogenesis during development.


Fatty acids are the preferred oxidative substrates of the heart, skeletal muscles, kidney cortex and liver in adult mammals. They are supplied to these tissues either as nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), or as triglycerides after hydrolysis by lipoprotein lipase. During fetal life, tissue capacity to oxidize NEFA is very low, even in species in which the placental transfer of NEFA and carnitine is high. At birth, the ability to oxidize NEFA from endogenous sources or from milk (a high-fat diet) develops rapidly in various tissues and remains very high throughout the suckling period. Ketogenesis appears in the liver by 6 to 12 hrs after birth, and the ketone bodies are used as oxidative fuels by various tissues during the suckling period. At the time of weaning, the transition from a high-fat to a high-carbohydrate diet is attended by a progressive decrease in the ketogenic capacity of the liver, whereas other tissues (skeletal muscle, heart, kidney) maintain a high capacity for NEFA oxidation. The nutritional and hormonal factors involved in changes in fatty acid oxidation during development are discussed.

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