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The utilization of yolk lipids by the chick embryo

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2007

Brian K. Speake
Affiliation:
Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Scottish Agricultural College, Auchincruive, Ayr KA6 5HW, UK
Raymond C. Noble*
Affiliation:
Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Scottish Agricultural College, Auchincruive, Ayr KA6 5HW, UK
Alison M.B. Murray
Affiliation:
Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Scottish Agricultural College, Auchincruive, Ayr KA6 5HW, UK
*
*To whom correspondence should be addressed.
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Abstract

The lipids of the yolk represent the primary nutrient source for the chick embryo, providing over 90% of the energy required for development as well as supplying a range of structural components for membrane biogenesis. Since the energy needs and the requirements for particular fatty acids differ greatly among the various embryonic tissues and between successive developmental stages, the regulated distribution of lipid components from the yolk to the different body sites forms a central feature of this system. As a consequence, the various tissues of the newly hatched chick display a range of highly characteristic lipid and fatty acid compositions in accordance with their functions but which, in many cases, also reflect the intensity and complexity of the lipid transfer process in the embryo. For example, the liver of the chick contains very high levels of cholesteryl ester as a result of the mechanism of lipid transfer. Moreover, the triacylglycerol fraction of the liver is highly enriched in docosahexaenoic acid, possibly reflecting hepatic involvement in the transfer of this fatty acid to the brain. The accretion of large amounts of both docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids in the phospholipids of the brain and retina is a key feature of chick embryo development, the importance of which is underlined by the expression of a series of mechanisms, possibly mediated by the liver and adipose tissue, designed to promote the transfer of these fatty acids to the neural tissues.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1998

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