Prepartum nutrition alters fatty acid composition in plasma, adipose tissue, and liver lipids of periparturient dairy cows

G. N. Douglas, J. Rehage, A. D. Beaulieu, A. O. Bahaa, J. K. Drackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The fatty acyl profile of phospholipids (PL) determines the fluidity of cell membranes and affects cell function. The degree to which long-chain fatty acid (LCFA) composition of PL and triacylglycerols (TG) in liver and total lipids in adipose tissue can be altered by prepartum nutrition in peripartal dairy cows is unclear. Multiparous Holsteins (n = 25) were assigned to 1 of 4 prepartal diets: 1) CA, the control diet fed to meet 120% of energy requirements; 2) CR, a control diet fed to meet 80% of requirements; 3) S, a diet supplemented with mostly saturated free fatty acids (47% 16:0, 36% 18:0, 14% cis-18:1) and fed to meet 120% of requirements; or 4) U, a diet similar to S except that cows were abomasally infused with soybean oil so that the diet plus infused fat would meet 120% of requirements. Diets were fed for 40 d prepartum; all cows received a lactation diet postpartum. Groups CR and U had lower prepartum intakes of dry matter and net energy, but glucose concentrations in plasma were similar among treatments. Cows fed S, U, or CR had greater nonesterified fatty acids in plasma prepartum, but cows fed U had decreased β-hydroxybutyrate postpartum. Postpartal concentrations of total lipids and glycogen in liver tissue were similar among treatments. Cows in group U had a greater percentage of 18:2 but less 16:0, 18:0, and 20:4 in plasma total lipids than cows fed S. Treatment U increased 18:2 and 18:3 and decreased 18:1 in subcutaneous adipose tissue at 1 d postpartum. Across diets, percentages of 16:0 and trans-18:l were increased, and 18:0, 20:3, and 20:5 were decreased, in hepatic PL at d 1 postpartum. Significant treatment × time interactions indicated that treatment U increased 18:2 in hepatic PL at the expense of 18:1, 20:3, 20:4, 22:6, and 24:0 on d 1 postpartum, but changes were normalized by d 65 postpartum. The unsaturation index of hepatic PL was lower at d 1 than at d -45 or 65, which implies that hepatic membrane fluidity decreased around parturition. The unsaturation index at d 1 was greater for cows fed S than those fed CA or U. Percentages of 16:0, 18:1, and 22:0 were increased, and 18:0, 20:3, 20:4, 20:5, 24:0, and 26:0 were decreased, in hepatic TG at d 1. Prepartal feed restriction modestly affected tissue LCFA profiles. The LCFA profile of adipose tissue, liver PL, and liver TG can be altered by dietary LCFA supply prepartum; changes in liver are normalized by 65 d postpartum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2941-2959
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Fatty acid composition
  • Liver metabolism
  • Periparturient cows
  • Supplemental fat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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