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Oral administration of melatonin reduces food intake and modifies macronutrient selection in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax, L.)

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Seasonal and circadian changes have been observed in dietary selection and feeding behavior of fish. It is known that the light–dark cycle is the principal mediator of the production of pineal-derived melatonin in fish, and also that the digestive tract synthesizes and secretes melatonin and indeed is the principal extrapineal source of this secretor product, suggesting that melatonin could be involved in the processes of feeding and/or digestion. Fish are capable of regulating their energy intake from separate sources of macronutrients, but the mechanisms of this selection process are unknown. In the present paper, we explored the effect of melatonin administered orally to European sea bass on their selection of encapsulated macronutrients. Melatonin doses of 0.1, 0.5, and 2.5 mg/kg body weight were administered in gelatin capsules. The voluntarily ingested melatonin was absorbed into the fish's plasma, 45 min after the administration reaching a level depending on the dose that was up to 26 times greater than the controls with the highest dose of melatonin. The indole produced a dose-dependent inhibition of total food intake of 9, 26, and 34%, respectively, and also modified the pattern of macronutrient selection. Carbohydrate intake was significantly reduced (by 17, 33, and 42% for the three doses, respectively), but the observed reductions in fat and protein intake were not statistically significant. On the contrary, fat percentage significantly increased for the highest dose, but no changes were observed in the protein or carbohydrate percentages for any of the melatonin doses. In conclusion, orally administered melatonin affected both the amount of food consumed and the pattern of macronutrients selected. This is the first evidence for the existence of neurohumoral mediators involved in the selection of macronutrients in fish.
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Keywords: feeding behavior; fish; food intake; macronutrient selection; melatonin; satiety

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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