The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of photoperiod and feeding level on lipid metabolism in ovine perirenal and subcutaneous adipose tissues (AT) and in skeletal and cardiac muscles. Twenty dry non-pregnant ovariectomised ewes were divided into two groups and subjected to either 8 h or 16 h light/d, and underfed at 22 % energy requirements for 7 d. Half of the ewes in each group were slaughtered and the remaining ewes were refed at 190 % energy requirements for 14 d, until slaughtering. Refeeding increased (2.6–4.3-fold) malic enzyme (ME), fatty acid synthase (FAS), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PDH) activities in subcutaneous AT as well as lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity in perirenal (3.5-fold) and subcutaneous (10-fold) AT and to a lesser extent (1.4-fold) in the skeletal longissimus thoracis and cardiac muscles. Moreover, variations of LPL mRNA level followed variations of LPL activity: refeeding increased perirenal AT- and cardiac muscle-mRNA levels (7.4- and 2-fold respectively). The main finding of this study is that, for a given level of food intake, long days (compared with short days) increased the LPL activity in the longissimus thoracis muscle and, in refed ewes, the activities of LPL and ME in subcutaneous AT. Furthermore, long days increased LPL mRNA level in cardiac muscle and perirenal AT. Thus, our results show that there are direct effects of photoperiod on sheep AT lipogenic potential, as well as on muscle LPL activity, which are not caused by changes in nutrient availability.
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