A Review of the Metabolic Origins of Milk Fatty Acids
Milk fat and its fatty acid profile are important determinants of the technological, sensorial, and nutritional properties of milk and dairy products. The two major processes contributing to the presence of fatty acids in ruminant milk are the mammary lipogenesis and the lipid metabolism in the rumen. Among fatty acids, 4:0 to 12:0, almost all 14:0 and about a half of 16:0 in milk fat derive from de novo synthesis within the mammary gland. De novo synthesis utilizes as precursors acetate and butyrate produced through carbohydrates ruminal fermentation and involves acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthetase as key enzymes. The rest of 16:0 and all of the long-chain fatty acids derive from mammary uptake of circulating lipoproteins and nonesterified fatty acids that originate from digestive absorption of lipids and body fat mobilization. Further, long-chain fatty acids as well as medium-chain fatty acids entering the mammary gland can be desaturated via Î”-9 desaturase, an enzyme that acts by adding a cis-9-double bond on the fatty acid chain. Moreover, ruminal biohydrogenation of dietary unsaturated fatty acids results in the formation of numerous fatty acids available for incorporation into milk fat. Ruminal biohydrogenation is performed by rumen microbial population as a means of protection against the toxic effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Within the rumen microorganisms, bacteria are principally responsible for ruminal biohydrogenation when compared to protozoa and anaerobic fungi.
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