The influence of feeding and fasting on plasma metabolites in the dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias)

Chris M. Wood, Patrick J. Walsh, Makiko Kajimura, Grant B. McClelland, Shit F. Chew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Dogfish sharks are opportunistic predators, eating large meals at irregular intervals. Here we present a synthesis of data from several previous studies on responses in plasma metabolites after natural feeding and during prolonged fasting (up to 56 days), together with new data on changes in plasma concentrations of amino acids and non-esterified fatty acids. Post-prandial and long-term fasting responses were compared to control sharks fasted for 7 days, a typical inter-meal interval. A feeding frenzy was created in which dogfish were allowed to feed naturally on dead teleosts at two consumed ration levels, 2.6% and 5.5% of body weight. Most responses were more pronounced at the higher ration level. These included increases in urea and TMAO concentrations at 20 h, followed by stability through to 56 days of fasting. Ammonia levels were low and exhibited little short-term response to feeding, but declined to very low values during the extended fast. Glucose and β-hydroxybutyrate both fell after feeding, the latter to a greater and more prolonged extent (up to 60 h), whereas acetoacetate did not change. During prolonged fasting, glucose concentrations were well regulated, but β-hydroxybutyrate increased to 2-3-fold control levels. Total plasma amino acid concentrations increased in a biphasic fashion, with peaks at 6-20 h, and 48-60 h after the meal, followed by homeostasis during the extended fast. Essential and non-essential amino acids generally followed this same pattern, though some exhibited different trends after feeding: taurine, β-alanine, and glycine (decreases or stability), alanine and glutamine (modest prolonged increases), and threonine, serine, asparagine, and valine (much larger short-term increases). Plasma non-esterified fatty acid concentrations declined markedly through 48 h after the 2.6% meal. These data are interpreted in light of companion studies showing elevations in aerobic metabolic rate, urea production, rectal gland function, metabolic base excretion, and activation of ornithine-urea cycle and aerobic enzymes after the meal, and muscle N-depletion but maintenance of osmolality and urea production during long-term fasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-444
Number of pages10
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino acids
  • Ammonia
  • Elasmobranch
  • Fatty acids
  • Glucose
  • Ketones
  • Trimethylamine oxide
  • Urea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology


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