Stable carbon isotopic evidence for differences in the dietary origin of bone cholesterol, collagen and apatite: Implications for their use in palaeodietary reconstruction

Susan Jim, Stanley H. Ambrose, Richard P. Evershed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rats were raised on a variety of isotopically controlled diets comprising 20% C3, C4 or marine protein and C3 and/or C4 non-protein or energy (i.e. sucrose, starch and oil) macronutrients. Compound specific stable carbon isotope (δ13C) analysis was performed on the cholesterol isolated from the diet (n=7 ) and bone (n=15) of these animals and the values compared with bulk δ13C measurements of bone collagen and apatite. The dietary signals reflected by these three bone biochemical components were investigated using linear regression analysis. δ13C values of bone cholesterol were shown to reflect whole diet δ13C values, collagen to reflect mainly dietary protein values and apatite to reflect whole diet values. Further correlations between dietary protein-to-energy spacings (Δ13Cprot-engy = δ13Cprotein13 Cenergy) and whole diet-to-bone component fractionations (Δ13Cbcomp-wdiet = δ13 Cbonecomponent - δ13Cwholediet) indicates that for hypothetical diets where protein δ13C values are equal to energy values, fractionations between whole diet and bone biochemical fractions are -3.3‰ for cholesterol, +5.4‰ for collagen and +9.5‰ for apatite. Moreover, the narrow range of variation observed in apatite-to-cholesterol spacings (Δ13Capat-bchol) suggests that cholesterol δ13C values can potentially also be used as an independent test for the isotopic integrity of apatite δ13C values. These insights into bone cholesterol, collagen and apatite dietary signals, diet-to-bone fractionations and bone component-to-bone component spacings provide the basis for more accurate interpretations of the dietary behaviour of archaeological populations and food webs when the δ13C analysis of bone is employed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-72
Number of pages12
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume68
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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