Similar to humans, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) can develop metabolic syndrome and associated high ferritin. While fish and fish-based fatty acids may protect against metabolic syndrome in humans, findings have been inconsistent. To assess potential protective factors against metabolic syndrome related to fish diets, fatty acids were compared between two dolphin populations with higher (n = 30, Group A) and lower (n = 19, Group B) mean insulin (11 ± 12 and 2 ± 5 μIU/ml, respectively; P < 0.0001) and their dietary fish. In addition to higher insulin, triglycerides, and ferritin, Group A had lower percent serum heptadecanoic acid (C17:0) compared to Group B (0.3 ± 0.1 and 1.3 ± 0.4%, respectively; P < 0.0001). Using multivariate stepwise regression, higher percent serum C17:0, a saturated fat found in dairy fat, rye, and some fish, was an independent predictor of lower insulin in dolphins. Capelin, a common dietary fish for Group A, had no detectable C17:0, while pinfish and mullet, common in Group B's diet, had C17:0 (41 and 67 mg/100g, respectively). When a modified diet adding 25% pinfish and/or mullet was fed to six Group A dolphins over 24 weeks (increasing the average daily dietary C17:0 intake from 400 to 1700 mg), C17:0 serum levels increased, high ferritin decreased, and blood-based metabolic syndrome indices normalized toward reference levels. These effects were not found in four reference dolphins. Further, higher total serum C17:0 was an independent and linear predictor of lower ferritin in dolphins in Group B dolphins. Among off the shelf dairy products tested, butter had the highest C17:0 (423mg/100g); nonfat dairy products had no detectable C17:0. We hypothesize that humans' movement away from diets with potentially beneficial saturated fatty acid C17:0, including whole fat dairy products, could be a contributor to widespread low C17:0 levels, higher ferritin, and metabolic syndrome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)