Circulating amino acids in blood plasma during the peripartal period in dairy cows with different liver functionality index

Z. Zhou, J. J. Loor, F. Piccioli-Cappelli, F. Librandi, G. E. Lobley, E. Trevisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The liver functionality index (LFI) measures the changes of albumin, cholesterol, and bilirubin concentrations between 3 and 28 d postpartum. This composite index, based on variables with direct relevance to liver-specific plasma protein synthesis (albumin), hepatic/intestinal lipoprotein synthesis (cholesterol), and clearance of breakdown products of heme catabolism (bilirubin), provides a tool for evaluating manifestations of hepatic disease. Both energy and protein metabolism are likely to be affected by various physiological challenges in this period but have not been tested systematically. The present study was conducted to profile AA in cows with high or low LFI during the peripartal period and relate this to production outcomes. Eighteen multiparous cows were used from -21 through 28 d around parturition and divided retrospectively into the high or low LFI group. Blood samples were obtained on -21, -14, -7, 1, 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, and 28 d relative to calving, and biomarkers and AA in plasma were measured. Grouping based on LFI resulted in 8 cows with high LFI (HLFI) and 10 cows with low LFI (LLFI). Although the temporal response in dry matter intake (DMI, 16.3 kg/d) and body condition score (2.56) did not differ, cows with high compared with low LFI had greater overall milk production (37.9 vs. 32.9 kg/d) although energy-corrected milk yield did not differ (42.6 vs. 38.7 kg/d). As expected, cows grouped as LLFI had lower cholesterol and albumin but greater bilirubin after calving compared with HLFI animals. Despite similar temporal responses in DMI between groups, concentrations of total AA were greater in HLFI, particularly after calving. Although concentrations of total essential AA (EAA) and branched-chain AA did not differ with LFI status, cows in HLFI had greater concentrations of Thr and Ile postpartum. Nearly all plasma AA concentrations followed the general trend of a nadir at 1 d after calving followed by a gradual increase to prepartal levels before 28 d. Glycine was the only AA exhibiting a gradual increase in concentration through the transition, with a maximum at 7 d postpartum followed by a gradual decrease. We detected no effect of LFI status on plasma Lys, which decreased markedly from -21 d to calving, followed by an increase to prepartal values by d 7. In contrast, concentrations of Met and His decreased markedly between -21 and 10 d and did not reach prepartal values by 28 d. The marked decrease in Gln concentration after calving regardless of LFI might compromise immune function during this period. Overall, the results indicate the existence of an association among inflammation, liver function postpartum, and AA plasma concentrations, irrespective of temporal differences in DMI. Cows with better indices of liver function produced more milk and maintained greater concentrations of total AA and some EAA such as Thr and Ile. Whether these AA played a direct role in the greater milk production remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2257-2267
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Amino acid metabolism
  • Liver function
  • Nutrition
  • Transition period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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