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Changes in expression of hepatic genes involved in lipid metabolism during prehibernation period in captive adult female Japanese black bears (Ursus thibetanus japonicus)

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Body fat accumulation in the prehibernation period is crucial for survival and reproduction during hibernation for bears. Bear body mass increases rapidly during their autumnal hyperphagia phase, which is attributed not only to an increase in food availability, but also to physiological changes in lipid metabolism. To test this hypothesis, we investigated changes in blood biochemical values and mRNA expression levels of hepatic genes involved in lipid metabolism during the active period (June, August, October, and November) in Japanese black bears (Ursus thibetanus japonicus Schlegel, 1857), which were fed a constant ration throughout this period. Blood biochemical analysis revealed that plasma triglyceride concentrations decreased in October and November, implying that peripheral triglyceride uptake was accelerated in autumn. The liver was sampled by needle biopsy. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis revealed that mRNA expressions of enzymes involved in glycolysis (glucokinase), as well as fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis (ATP-citrate lyase, acetyl-CoA carboxykinase 1, fatty acid synthase, and diacylglycerol O-acyltransferase 2), increased in November, which suggests that hepatic lipogenesis becomes accelerated during the hyperphagia phase. These results suggest that lipid metabolism is seasonally controlled even without changes in food intake. These physiological changes seen in the prehibernation period would contribute to the rapid mass gain necessary for hibernation.

Keywords: Ursus thibetanus japonicus; bears; foie; hibernation; lipid metabolism; liver; métabolisme des lipides; ours

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-08-11

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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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