Metabolomics of Milk Reflects a Negative Energy Balance in Cows

Wei Xu, Ariette Van Knegsel*, Edoardo Saccenti, Renny Van Hoeij, Bas Kemp, Jacques Vervoort*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Dairy cows can experience a negative energy balance (NEB) in early lactation when feed intake is too low to meet the energy requirements for body maintenance and milk production. Metabolic changes occur in mammary gland cells of animals experiencing a negative energy balance. We studied these metabolic changes in milk samples from dairy cows in relation to energy balance status using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (QQQ-LC-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR). NMR and LC-MS techniques are complementary techniques that enabled a comprehensive overview of milk metabolites in our study. Energy balance and milk samples were obtained from 87 dairy cows. A total of 55 milk metabolites were reliably detected, of which 15 metabolites were positively correlated to energy balance and 20 were negatively correlated to energy balance. Cows in NEB produced more milk with increased milk fat yield and higher concentrations of citrate, cis-aconitate, creatinine, glycine, phosphocreatine, galactose-1-phosphate, glucose-1-phosphate, UDP-N-acetyl-galactosamine, UDP-N-acetyl-glucosamine, and phosphocholine but lower concentrations of choline, ethanolamine, fucose, N-acetyl-neuraminic acid, N-acetyl-glucosamine, and N-acetyl-galactosamine. During NEB, we observed an increased leakage of cellular content, increased synthesis of nucleic acids and cell membrane phospholipids, an increase in one-carbon metabolic processes, and an increase in lipid-triglyceride anabolism. Overall, both apoptosis combined with cellular renewal is paramount in the mammary gland in cows in NEB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2942-2949
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2020


  • energy balance
  • integrated analysis
  • LC-MS
  • metabolic status
  • metabolomics
  • milk
  • NMR

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Metabolomics of Milk Reflects a Negative Energy Balance in Cows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this