Respiration rate of hepatocytes varies with body mass in birds
Hepatocytes were isolated from eight species of birds ranging from 13 g zebra finches to 35 kg emus. This represents a 2800-fold range of body mass (Mb).
Liver mass (g) was allometrically related to species body mass by the equation: liver mass=19.6xMb0.91. There was a significant allometric decline in hepatocyte respiration rate (HRR; nmol O2 mg1 dry mass min1) with species body mass (kg) described by the relationship: HRR=5.27xMb0.10. The proportions of hepatocyte oxygen consumption devoted to (i) mitochondrial ATP production, (ii) mitochondrial proton leak and (iii) non-mitochondrial processes were estimated by using excess amounts of appropriate inhibitors. It was found that although hepatocyte respiration rate varied with body mass in birds, these processes constitute a relatively constant proportion of hepatocyte metabolic rate irrespective of the size of the bird species. The respective percentages were 54%, 21% and 25%. The portion of hepatocyte respiration devoted to ATP production for use by the sodium pump was estimated and found to be a relatively constant 24% of hepatocyte respiration and 45% of mitochondrial ATP production in different-sized bird species. These results are discussed in the context of competing theories to explain the metabolismbody size allometry, and are found to support the `allometric cascade' model.