Abstract # 79:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 8 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation

Fatty acid profiles of anthropoid primate milk

L. A. Milligan1,2, S. I. Rapoport3 and R. P. Bazinet3
1Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA, 2Nutrition Laboratory, Department of Conservation Biology, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, Washington DC 20008 USA, 3Brain Physiology and Metabolism Section, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892
     The maternal energy hypothesis argues that encephalization in genus Homo must have been accompanied by selection for milk constituents that supported rapid neonatal brain growth. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) play an important role in the mylenization process in human neonates and influence cognitive and visual development from infancy to adolescence. Human milk LCPUFA composition is argued to be species-specific due to the unique ontogenetic priorities of human neonates but has never been evaluated in a comparative context with multiple species of nonhuman primate. This study determined the concentration of milk fatty acids for 14 species from 11 genera of anthropoids (Pan, Gorilla, Pongo, Symphalangus, Hylobates, Macaca, Callithrix, Leontipithecus, Saimiri, Alouatta, Cebus) to evaluate possible evolutionary modifications on human milk composition. Ape and human profiles indicate similar concentrations of LCPUFA, including arachidonic (AA, 20:4n-6) and docohexaenoic (DHA, 22:6n-3). New and Old World monkey profiles show high concentrations of octanoic (8:0), decanoic (10:0), and lauric (12:0) acid, which are virtually undetectable in humans and apes. These results suggest a phylogenetic influence on fatty acid profiles among anthropoids. Additionally, data from wild and captive species support a strong dietary influence on milk fatty acids. Although total fatty acids were similar between captive and wild Gorilla species, wild gorilla milk had three times the alpha-linolenic (18:3n-3), AA, and DHA, reflecting differences in maternal diet.