One-carbon metabolism and related pathways in ruminal and small intestinal epithelium of lactating dairy cows

Qianming Jiang, Danielle N. Sherlock, Huimin Zhang, Jessie Guyader, Yuan Xiang Pan, Juan J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physiological and environmental stresses such as the transition into lactation and heat load contribute to gastrointestinal tract (GIT) dysfunction. The nonruminant gastrointestinal tract has mechanisms to cope with pro-oxidant and pro-inflammatory stressors arising from the gut lumen or within intestinal cells. One-carbon metabolism (OCM) contributes to anti-oxidant capacity via the production of glutathione (GSH) and taurine, and the synthesis of phospholipid, creatine, and the osmolyte glycinebetaine among others. A multipronged approach was used to assess the biological relevance of OCM and closely-related pathways on GIT function in dairy cows. Ruminal papillae (Rum) and scrapings from duodenum (Duo), jejunum (Jej), and ileum (Ile) were collected at slaughter from eight multiparous Holstein cows averaging 128 ± 12 d in milk and producing 39 ± 5 kg/d. A MIXED model ANOVA with preplanned orthogonal contrasts was used for statistical analysis. Methionine adenosyl transferase 1 activity (MAT) was ∼10-fold greater (P < 0.01) and cystathionine β-synthase activity doubled in Rum vs. small intestine. Total glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activity was greatest (P = 0.03) in Ile, but similar to Rum. Activity and mRNA abundance of betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase were undetectable. There was a 2.5-fold greater protein abundance of GPX1 (P < 0.01) and a ∼2-fold greater abundance of GPX3 (P < 0.01) in Rum vs. small intestine. Among the various amino acids (AA) with roles in OCM or closely-related pathways (e.g. creatine synthesis), concentrations of arginine, aspartate, glutamine, methionine, and serine were lower (P < 0.01) in Rum vs. small intestine. Unlike AA, concentrations of OCM-related intermediates S-5'-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH), glycinebetaine, carnitine, creatine (CRE), and cysteinesulfinic acid were greater (P < 0.01) while taurine was lower in Rum vs. small intestine. Intermediates of the folate cycle were undetectable. The fact that S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) was undetectable while MAT activity and SAH were greater in Rum suggested that availability of SAM (a methyl donor) is a key determinant of flux through the folate and methionine cycles in the GIT. Except for adenosine, concentrations of glutamate, glycine, α-ketoglutarate, hypotaurine, and GSH were lowest in Ile. Together, the data underscored unique differences in activity of one-carbon metabolism and related pathways across sections of the GIT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskad062
JournalJournal of animal science
StatePublished - 2023


  • anti-oxidant
  • inflammation
  • leaky gut
  • methyl donor
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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