The effect of different high-fat diets on erythrocyte osmotic fragility, growth performance and serum lipid concentrations in male, Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica)

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Poultry diets are formulated with additional animal fat or vegetable oils to improve growth rate and feed conversion efficiency. High-fat diet feeding in rats and fish has been shown to result in alterations in the phospholipid composition and cholesterol content of the erythrocyte membrane, in turn affecting erythrocyte osmotic fragility. In contrast, the few studies performed using high-fat diet feeding in avian species show no changes in erythrocyte osmotic fragility. This study made use of the Japanese quail as no data exists on investigation of this species with respect to high-fat diet feeding and erythrocyte osmotic fragility. Fifty-seven male quail were randomly divided into six groups and fed either a standard diet (commercial poultry feed) or one of five high-fat diets (commercial poultry feed with 22% of either coconut oil, lard, palm oil, soya bean oil or sunflower oil on a weight/weight basis) for 12 weeks. All birds on the high-fat diets were significantly heavier (p < 0.05) after the 12-week feeding period, than when commencing the dietary intervention. Serum triglyceride concentrations of birds in all high-fat diet groups were significantly lower (p < 0.05) than birds in the standard diet group, whereas only birds in the palm oil group had significantly lower (p < 0.05) serum cholesterol concentrations compared to the standard diet group. Fragiligrams of erythrocytes from birds in the various dietary groups were similar. High-fat diet feeding with different types of additional fat did not affect the osmotic fragility of the quail erythrocytes. Feeding quail high-energy diets of varying degrees of fatty acid saturation was well tolerated and did not seem to affect the overall health status of the birds. Resistance of avian erythrocytes to modification by excess dietary fat may be a general characteristic of avian erythrocytes.

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