The acyl composition of membrane phospholipids in kidney and brain of mammals of different body mass was examined. It was hypothesized that reduction in unsaturation index (number of double bonds per 100 acyl chains) of membrane phospholipids with increasing body mass in mammals would be made-up of similar changes in acyl composition across all phospholipid classes and that phospholipid class distribution would be regulated and similar in the same tissues of the different-sized mammals. The
results of this study supported both hypotheses. Differences in membrane phospholipid acyl composition (i.e. decreased omega- 3 fats, increased monounsaturated fats and decreased unsaturation index with increasing body size) were not restricted to any specific phospholipid molecule or to any specific phospholipid class but were observed in all phospholipid classes. With increase in body mass of mammals both monounsaturates and use of less unsaturated polyunsaturates increases at the expense of the long-chain highly unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturates, producing decreases in membrane unsaturation. The distribution of membrane phospholipid classes was essentially the same in the different-sized mammals with phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) together constituting ~91% and ~88% of all phospholipids in kidney and brain, respectively. The lack of sphingomyelin in the mouse tissues and higher levels in larger mammals suggests an increased
presence of membrane lipid rafts in larger mammals. The results of this study support the proposal that the physical properties of membranes are likely to be involved in changing metabolic rate.