• Prolonged fasting;
  • Rat plasma;
  • Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis


Prolonged fasting is characterized by consecutive phases, a short period of adaptation (phase 1), phase 2 (P2) characterized by fat oxidation, and phase 3 (P3) during which energy requirements are mostly derived from increased protein utilization. At this latter stage, food seeking behavior is induced. Very few circulating biomolecules have been identified that are involved in the response to prolonged fasting. To this end, rat plasma samples were compared by a proteomic approach, using 2-DE. The results revealed a selective variation of the levels of apolipoprotein A-IV, A-I, and E, haptoglobin, transthyretin, plasma retinol binding-protein, and vitamin D binding-protein in P2 and P3. The variations in protein levels were confirmed by ELISA. Changes in mRNA levels encoding these proteins did not systematically correlate well with protein concentrations, and tissue-specific regulation of mRNA expression was observed, underlining the complex metabolic regulation in response to food deprivation. In late fasting, the marked reduction of apolipoprotein A-IV levels could contribute to the alarm signal that triggers refeeding. The variations of the other differentially expressed proteins are more likely related to lipid metabolism and insulin signaling alterations.