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Vitamin E status and the dynamics of its transfer between mother and pup during lactation in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus)

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Concentrations of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, were measured in milk and serum of 18 grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) mothers and in the serum of their pups sampled up to 6 times between parturition and weaning on the Isle of May, Scotland, in 1998 and 2000. The vitamin E concentration in colostrum (89.4 ± 22.5 mg/kg milk; mean ± SD) was 4.5 times greater than that in later milk (20.9 ± 5.0 mg/kg milk). It then remained constant until the end of lactation. The decline in concentration of vitamin E in grey seal milk corresponded to a drop in the vitamin E concentration in mothers' serum between parturition (14.0 ± 4.8 mg/L serum) and the second half of the lactation period during which the serum vitamin E concentration remained stable (9.6 ± 3.2 mg/L serum). Circulating vitamin E concentrations varied significantly among mothers but there was no relationship with mother's age. Despite these differences between mothers, individuals produced milk with very similar vitamin E concentrations. The vitamin E concentration in grey seal pups' serum was low at birth (lowest concentration 3.1 mg/L serum) but increased sharply to a peak around days 1–3 (31.2 ± 5.2 mg/L serum). It then fell, before stabilizing until the end of lactation (21.1 ± 4.5 mg/L serum), reflecting the changes reported in the milk.

Les teneurs en vitamine E, un antioxydant puissant, ont été mesurées dans le lait et le sérum de 18 mères phoque gris (Halichoerus grypus) ainsi que dans le sérum de leurs petits capturés jusqu'à 6 fois entre la parturition et le sevrage, à l'île de May, Écosse, en 1998 et en 2000. La concentration en vitamine E du colostrum (89,4 ± 22,5 mg/kg lait; moyenne ± écart type) est 4,5 fois supérieure à celle du lait prélevé ultérieurement (20,9 ± 5,0 mg/kg lait). Elle demeure ensuite constante jusqu'à la fin de la lactation. La diminution de vitamine E dans le lait de phoque gris correspond à une diminution dans le sérum des mères entre la parturition (14,0 ± 4,8 mg/L sérum) et la deuxième partie de la période d'allaitement durant laquelle la concentration en vitamine E sérique reste stable (9,6 ± 3,2 mg/L sérum). Les teneurs en vitamine E circulante diffèrent significativement d'une mère à l'autre sans qu'il ait été possible d'établir une relation avec l'âge des animaux. Malgré ces différences, toutes les mères sécrètent un lait de concentration en vitamine E très similaire. La teneur en vitamine E du sérum des petits phoques gris est faible à la naissance (concentration la plus faible 3,1 mg/L sérum), mais elle augmente rapidement pour atteindre un pic aux alentours des jours 1 à 3 (31,2 ± 5,2 mg/L sérum). Elle subit ensuite une chute avant de se stabiliser jusqu'à la fin de la lactation (21,1 ± 4,5 mg/L sérum), reflétant ainsi l'évolution des concentrations observées dans le lait.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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