Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) absorb β-carotene intact from a test meal

J. Pollack, J. M. Campbell, S. M. Potter, J. W. Erdman

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Because a yellow color has been observed in the fat pads of Mongolian gerbils fed a nonpurified diet, we designed the current study to determine whether adult male gerbils would absorb β-carotene intact from a test meal. Thirty-five gerbils (80-90 g) were adapted to the laboratory and fed a standard purified diet free of β-carotene for 16-19 d. Gerbils were then fed a test meal consisting of 279 nmol of β-carotene as 10% water-soluble beadlets suspended in 0.5 mL of Ensure(TM). Gerbils (n = 5) were killed at 0, 2, 4, 6, 12, 24 or 72 h after the test meal, blood was obtained by cardiac puncture, and tissues were taken for β-carotene analysis. No β-carotene was detected in serum at 0 or 72 h, whereas β-carotene was present at all other sampling times. Serum β-carotene peaked at 4 h, at a level of 88 nmol/L. β- Carotene was detected in the liver of all groups; however, the concentration increased from -34 pmol/g to a maximum concentration of 926 pmol/g at 24 h after the test meal. Other tissues also contained β-carotene. The results demonstrate that Mongolian gerbils, like ferrets and preruminant calves, absorb β-carotene intact when β-carotene is provided at a physiological level in a test meal. This species may be particularly useful for evaluation of the role of antioxidants, such as β-carotene, in LDL oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-873
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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