Increased mitochondrial energy efficiency in skeletal muscle after long-term fasting: its relevance to animal performance

Abstract : In the final stage of fasting, skeletal muscle mass and protein content drastically decrease when the maintenance of efficient locomotor activity becomes crucial for animals to reactivate feeding behaviour and survive a very long period of starvation. As mitochondrial metabolism represents the main physiological link between the endogenous energy store and animal performance, the aim of this study was to determine how a very long, natural period of fasting affected skeletal muscle mitochondrial bioenergetics in king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) chicks. Rates of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation were measured in pectoralis permeabilized fibres and isolated mitochondria. Mitochondrial ATP synthesis efficiency and the activities of respiratory chain complexes were measured in mitochondria isolated from pectoralis muscle. Results from long-term (4–5 months) naturally fasted chicks were compared with those from short-term (10 day) fasted birds. The respiratory activities of muscle fibres and isolated mitochondria were reduced by 60% and 45%, respectively, on average in long-term fasted chicks compared with short-term fasted birds. Oxidative capacity and mitochondrial content of pectoralis muscle were lowered by long-term fasting. Bioenergetic analysis of pectoralis muscle also revealed that mitochondria were, on average, 25% more energy efficient in the final stage of fasting (4–5 months) than after 10 days of fasting (short-term fasted birds). These results suggest that the strong reduction in respiratory capacity of pectoralis muscle was partly alleviated by increased mitochondrial ATP synthesis efficiency. Such oxidative phosphorylation optimization can impact animal performance, e.g. the metabolic cost of locomotion or the foraging efficiency.
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Submitted on : Monday, November 13, 2017 - 2:56:53 PM
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Aurore Bourguignon, Anaïs Rameau, Gaëlle Toullec, Caroline Romestaing, Damien Roussel. Increased mitochondrial energy efficiency in skeletal muscle after long-term fasting: its relevance to animal performance. Journal of Experimental Biology, Cambridge University Press, 2017, 220 (13), pp.2445 - 2451. ⟨10.1242/jeb.159087⟩. ⟨hal-01633887⟩

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