Dietary fatty acid composition influences tissue lipid profiles and regulation of body temperature in Japanese quail

J Comp Physiol B. 2011 Aug;181(6):807-16. doi: 10.1007/s00360-011-0558-2. Epub 2011 Feb 17.


Many avian species reduce their body temperature (T(b)) to conserve energy during periods of inactivity, and we recently characterized how ambient temperature (T(a)) and nutritional stress interact with one another to influence physiologically controlled hypothermic responses in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). In the present study, we examined how the fatty acid (FA) composition of the diet influences the FA composition of phospholipids in major organs and how these affect controlled hypothermic responses and metabolic rates in fasted birds. For 5 weeks prior to fasting, quail were fed a standard diet and gavaged each morning with 0.7 ml of water (control), or a vegetable oil comprising saturated fatty acids (SFA; coconut oil), or unsaturated fatty acids (UFA; canola oil). Birds were then fasted for 4 days at a T(a) of 15°C. We found that, while fasting, both photophase and scotophase T(b) decreased significantly more in the SFA treatment group than in the control group; apparently the former down-regulated their T(b) set point. This deeper hypothermic response was correlated with changes in the phospholipid composition of the skeletal muscle and liver, which contained significantly more oleic acid (18:1) and less arachidonic acid (20:4), respectively. Our data imply that these two FAs may be associated with thermoregulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology
  • Basal Metabolism / drug effects
  • Body Temperature Regulation / drug effects*
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects
  • Coconut Oil
  • Coturnix
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Oleic Acid / physiology
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Rapeseed Oil


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Plant Oils
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Oleic Acid
  • Coconut Oil