Hepatic metabolomics and transcriptomics to study susceptibility to ketosis in response to prepartal nutritional management

Khuram Shahzad, Vincenzo Lopreiato, Yusheng Liang, Erminio Trevisi, Johan S. Osorio, Chuang Xu, Juan J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ketosis in dairy cows is associated with body fat mobilization during the peripartal period. Sub-clinical and clinical ketosis arise more frequently in cows that are overfed energy during the entire dry (last 50 to 45 days prior to parturition) or close-up period (last ~ 28 days prepartum). Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on 12 cows from a larger cohort that were fed a higher-energy diet [1.54 Mcal/kg of dry matter (DM); 35.9% of DM corn silage and 13% of DM ground corn] during the close-up dry period, of which 6 did not develop clinical ketosis (OVE, 0.83 mmol/L plasma hydroxybutyrate; BHB) and 6 were diagnosed with clinical ketosis (KET, 1.4 mmol/L BHB) during the first week postpartum. A whole-transcriptome bovine microarray (Agilent Technologies) and metabolomics (GC-MS, LC-MS; Metabolon® Inc.) were used to perform transcript and metabolite profiling of liver tissue harvested at - 10 days relative to parturition which allowed to establish potential associations between prepartal transcriptome/metabolome profiles and susceptibility to clinical ketosis postpartum. Results: Cows in KET had greater (P = 0.01) overall body weight between - 2 and 1 week around parturition, but similar body condition score than OVE. Although dry matter intake (DMI) did not differ prepartum, KET cows had lower (P < 0.01) DMI and similar milk yield as OVE cows during the first week postpartum. Transcriptome analysis revealed a total of 3065 differentially expressed genes (DEG; P ≤ 0.05) in KET. Metabolomics identified 15 out of 313 total biochemical compounds significantly affected (P ≤ 0.10) in KET. Among those, greater concentrations (P ≤ 0.06, + 2.3-fold) of glycochenodeoxycholate in KET cows also have been detected in humans developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Bioinformatics analysis using the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway database and the DEG revealed that, among the top 20 most-impacted metabolic pathway categories in KET, 65% were overall downregulated. Those included 'Metabolism of cofactors and vitamins', 'Biosynthesis of other secondary metabolites', 'Lipid', 'Carbohydrate', and 'Glycan biosynthesis and metabolism'. The lower relative concentration of glucose-6-phosphate and marked downregulation of fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase 2 and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 support a strong impairment in gluconeogenesis in prepartal liver of cows developing KET postpartum. Among the top 20 most-impacted non-metabolic pathways, 85% were downregulated. Pathways such as 'mTOR signalling' and 'Insulin signalling' were among those. 'Ribosome', 'Nucleotide excision repair', and 'Adherens junctions' were the only upregulated pathways in cows with KET. Conclusions: The combined data analyses revealed more extensive alterations of the prepartal liver transcriptome than metabolome in cows overfed energy and developing ketosis postpartum. The causative link between these tissue-level adaptations and onset of clinical ketosis needs to be studied further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 18 2019


  • Bioinformatics
  • Ketosis
  • Metabolomics
  • Transition cow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Hepatic metabolomics and transcriptomics to study susceptibility to ketosis in response to prepartal nutritional management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this