Relationship between energy balance and metabolic profiles in plasma and milk of dairy cows in early lactation

Wei Xu, Jacques Vervoort, Edoardo Saccenti, Bas Kemp, Renny J. van Hoeij, Ariette T.M. van Knegsel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Negative energy balance in dairy cows in early lactation is related to alteration of metabolic status. However, the relationships among energy balance, metabolic profile in plasma, and metabolic profile in milk have not been reported. In this study our aims were: (1) to reveal the metabolic profiles of plasma and milk by integrating results from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) with data from liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC-MS); and (2) to investigate the relationship between energy balance and the metabolic profiles of plasma and milk. For this study 24 individual dairy cows (parity 2.5 ± 0.5; mean ± standard deviation) were studied in lactation wk 2. Body weight (mean ± standard deviation; 627.4 ± 56.4 kg) and milk yield (28.1 ± 6.7 kg/d; mean ± standard deviation) were monitored daily. Milk composition (fat, protein, and lactose) and net energy balance were calculated. Plasma and milk samples were collected and analyzed using LC-MS and NMR. From all plasma metabolites measured, 27 were correlated with energy balance. These plasma metabolites were related to body reserve mobilization from body fat, muscle, and bone; increased blood flow; and gluconeogenesis. From all milk metabolites measured, 30 were correlated with energy balance. These milk metabolites were related to cell apoptosis and cell proliferation. Nine metabolites detected in both plasma and milk were correlated with each other and with energy balance. These metabolites were mainly related to hyperketonemia; β-oxidation of fatty acids; and one-carbon metabolism. The metabolic profiles of plasma and milk provide an in-depth insight into the physiological pathways of dairy cows in negative energy balance in early lactation. In addition to the classical indicators for energy balance (e.g., β-hydroxybutyrate, acetone, and glucose), the current study presents some new metabolites (e.g., glycine in plasma and milk; kynurenine, panthothenate, or arginine in plasma) in lactating dairy cows that are related to energy balance and may be of interest as new indicators for energy balance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4795–4805
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2020


  • liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry
  • mammary gland
  • metabolomics
  • nuclear magnetic resonance

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