Dietary Fatty Acids and Flight-Training Influence the Expression of the Eicosanoid Hormone Prostacyclin in Songbirds

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Diet shifts can alter tissue fatty acid composition in birds, which is subsequently related to metabolic patterns. Eicosanoids, short-lived fatty acid-derived hormones, have been proposed to mediate these relationships but neither baseline concentrations nor the responses to diet and exercise have been measured in songbirds. We quantified a stable derivative of the vasodilatory eicosanoid prostacyclin in the plasma of male European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris, N = 25) fed semisynthetic diets with either high (PUFA) or low (MUFA) amounts of n6 fatty acid precursors to prostacyclin. Plasma samples were taken from each bird before, immediately after, and two days following a 15-day flight-training regimen that a subset of birds (N = 17) underwent. We found elevated prostacyclin levels in flight-trained birds fed the PUFA diet compared to those fed the MUFA diet and a positive relationship between prostacyclin and body condition, indexed by fat score. Prostacyclin concentrations also significantly decreased at the final time point. These results are consistent with the proposed influences of precursor availability (i.e., dietary fatty acids) and regulatory feedback associated with exercise (i.e., fuel supply and inflammation), and suggest that prostacyclin may be an important mediator of dietary influence on songbird physiology.


Online ahead of print, December 4, 2023



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