Energy Metabolism in Camel

Energy systems to provide energy for exercise

Camels have a continual energy demand for maintenance and muscular performance.  The form of energy in the muscle cell is adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and is the only energy source that can be used for muscular contraction. ATP is stored only to a limited extent in cells, and so ATP must be produced from other sources by chemical reactions. These sources of ATP include creatinine phosphate (which is converted directly to ATP) or feed sources (glucose, fats and proteins). ATP is supplied from the feed sources either by aerobic or anaerobic chemical pathways.

Aerobic Metabolism

Aerobic metabolism is the use of oxygen to burn fuels (carbohydrate/fat) to supply ATP.  This energy source yields high levels of ATP, but more slowly than the anaerobic system. This is the main energy source for endurance and low intensity exercise.

Anaerobic Metabolism

Anaerobic metabolism produces ATP very rapidly from glucose/ glycogen without the use of oxygen, and produces lactic acid. Lactic acid production of the muscle causes muscle fatigue. The rate of energy production is very high, and is the main energy source for explosive or sprint energy. The total contribution of the anaerobic system even under intense exercise is only 30%.

Camels have an inherent capacity for anaerobic activity, and can clear lactate efficiently.  The challenge is to increase glucose supply to the racing camel, without causing starch overload, and metabolic disorders. ATP sources such gluconeogenic amino acids, and medium chain fatty acids provide an alternate to starch based diets.