Certain diets cause a marked reduction in milk fat production in ruminants. Commonly referred to as milk fat depression (MFD), the mechanism involves an interrelationship between rumen microbial processes and tissue metabolism. Numerous theories to explain this interrelationship have been proposed and investigations offer little support for theories that are based on a limitation in the supply of lipogenic precursors. Rather, the basis involves alterations in rumen biohydrogenation of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and a specific inhibition of mammary synthesis of milk fat. The biohydrogenation theory proposes that under certain dietary conditions, typical pathways of rumen biohydrogenation are altered to produce unique fatty acid intermediates that inhibit milk fat synthesis. -10, -12 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has been identified as one example that is correlated with the reduction in milk fat. Investigations with pure isomers have shown that -10, -12 CLA is a potent inhibitor of milk fat synthesis, and similar to diet-induced MFD, the mechanism involves a coordinated reduction in mRNA abundance for key enzymes involved in the biochemical pathways of fat synthesis. A more complete identification of these naturally produced inhibitors of fat synthesis and delineation of cellular mechanisms may offer broader opportunities for application and understanding of the regulation of lipid metabolism.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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