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J Dairy Sci. 2010 Apr;93(4):1539-50. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2563.

Nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry-based milk metabolomics in dairy cows during early and late lactation.

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Institute of Functional Genomics, University of Regensburg, Josef-Engert-Str. 9, 93053 Regensburg, Germany.


Milk production in dairy cows has dramatically increased over the past few decades. The selection for higher milk yield affects the partitioning of available nutrients, with more energy being allocated to milk synthesis and less to physiological processes essential to fertility and fitness. In this study, the abundance of numerous milk metabolites in early and late lactation was systematically investigated, with an emphasis on metabolites related to energy metabolism. The aim of the study was the identification and correlation of milk constituents to the metabolic status of the cows. To investigate the influence of lactation stage on physiological and metabolic variables, 2 breeds of different productivity were selected for investigation by high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We could reliably quantify 44 different milk metabolites. The results show that biomarkers such as acetone and beta-hydroxybutyrate are clearly correlated to the metabolic status of the individual cows during early lactation. Based on these data, the selection of cows that cope well with the metabolic stress of early lactation should become an option.

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