Response to Fasting in an Unnaturally Obese Carnivore, the Captive European Polecat Mustela putorius
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The European polecat (Mustela putorius) is a naturally lean carnivore prone to excessive weight gain in captivity. This study assessed its suitability to investigate the natural history of the obese phenotype displayed in overweight humans, domestic animals, and seasonally obese wild mammals. Ten farm-bred polecats were subjected to a 5-day fast with 10 controls. Obesity (40% body fat) was associated with an unfavorable plasma lipid profile and high glucose and insulin concentrations. The polecats were in phase II of fasting with normoglycemia, low liver carbohydrate stores, and decreased plasma concentrations of urea and most amino acids. Although the plasma nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) levels were elevated, the adipose tissue lipase activities suggested a blunted lipolytic response. Lipid mobilization was more efficient from intraabdominal fat. The animals developed hepatic lipidosis with elevated NEFA influx into the liver and losses of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and arginine as hypothetical etiological factors. The plasma leptin, insulin, and triiodothyronine levels decreased but were not accompanied by reduced sex steroid or increased stress hormone concentrations. The blunted lipolytic response often encountered in obesity suggests that the organism is trying to defend the obese phenotype. Liver lipidosis and decreased insulin and triiodothyronine levels seem to be among the most consistent responses to fasting manifested in diverse mammalian orders and different levels of body fatness. The polecat could be recommended as an easily accessible carnivorean model to study the natural history of the obese phenotype and its comorbidities. Exp Biol Med 234:1287-1295, 2009
Mustonen, Anne-Mari, Matti Puukka, Kirsti Rouvinen-Watt, Jari Aho, et al. 2009. "Response to Fasting in an Unnaturally Obese Carnivore, the Captive European Polecat Mustela putorius." Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood) 234(11): 1287-1295.