University Of Tasmania

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Lipids of the tail gland, body and muzzle fur of the red fox, Vulpes Vulpes

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 06:53 authored by Stuart McLeanStuart McLean, Noel DaviesNoel Davies, David NicholsDavid Nichols
The tail gland of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) secretes lipids containing volatile terpenes used in social communication. We have analysed lipids extracted from fur of the tail gland, body (fanks) and muzzle of foxes. GC–MS showed a novel group of iso-valerate and tiglate monoesters of alkane-1,2-diols (C18:0–22:0). There was also a larger group of Type II diesters in which a second, longer chain, fatty acid (FA) was attached to the free alcohol group. LC–MS showed the full range of diol diesters, mostly C36:0–50:0, with smaller amounts of the corresponding mono-unsaturated tiglate esters. An additional group of diesters with higher MW (C49:0–62:0) containing two long-chain FA was present in the lipids of body and muzzle fur. After saponifcation and GC–MS, 98 fatty acids were characterized as their methyl esters. Apart from the C5 FA, most were saturated n-, iso-, anteiso- or other methyl-branched FA (C12:0–28:0) whose structures were determined by a combination of their mass spectra and Kovats retention indices. Several FA have not previously been found in nature or in vertebrates. Thirty-four alkane- 1,2-diols were found as their TMS derivatives, mostly n-, iso- or anteiso-isomers of C16:0–25:0. The tail gland had the greatest amount of wax esters, from a greater variety of FA and diols, but lacked the esters with two long-chain FA. These fndings show that fox skin lipids comprise monoand di-esters of alkane-1,2-diols, and exhibit enormous complexity due to the diversity of their constituent FA, diols and the many possible isomers of their esters.


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School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology



Place of publication

United States

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Copyright 2017 AOCS

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments

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