Fatty acid composition of wild anthropoid primate milks.
Fatty acids in milk reflect the interplay between species-specific physiological mechanisms and maternal diet. Anthropoid primates (apes, Old and New World monkeys) vary in patterns of growth and development and dietary strategies. Milk fatty acid profiles also are predicted to vary widely. This study investigates milk fatty acid composition of five wild anthropoids (Alouatta palliata, Callithrix jacchus, Gorilla beringei beringei, Leontopithecus rosalia, Macaca sinica) to test the null hypothesis of a generalized anthropoid milk fatty acid composition. Milk from New and Old World monkeys had significantly more 8:0 and 10:0 than milk from apes. The leaf eating species G. b. beringei and A. paliatta had a significantly higher proportion of milk 18:3n-3, a fatty acid found primarily in plant lipids. Mean percent composition of 22:6n-3 was significantly different among monkeys and apes, but was similar to the lowest reported values for human milk. Mountain gorillas were unique among anthropoids in the high proportion of milk 20:4n-6. This seems to be unrelated to requirements of a larger brain and may instead reflect species-specific metabolic processes or an unknown source of this fatty acid in the mountain gorilla diet.
Milligan, LA; Rapoport, SI; Cranfield, MR; Dittus, W; Glander, KE; Oftedal, OT; Power, ML; Whittier, CA; Bazinet, RP
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