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J Dairy Sci. 2012 Nov;95(11):6563-70. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-5018. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Free ferulic acid uptake in lactating cows.

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Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Ferulic acid (FRA), a phenolic compound with antioxidant and anticancer activities, naturally occurs in plants as a lignin precursor. Many veins of research have been devoted to releasing FRA from the lignin complex to improve digestibility of ruminant feeds. Thus, the objective of this research was to investigate the transfer of a given dosage of the free form of FRA into the milk of dairy cattle. Six mid- to late-lactation Holstein cows at the Cornell Research Farm (Harford, NY) were given 14-d adaptation to diet and stall position. Ad libitum access to a total mixed ration based on haylage and maize silage (31.1% neutral detergent fiber containing 5.52 mg of FRA/g) was provided during the study. A crossover design was implemented so that each cow alternated weekly between FRA-dosed and control. On d 1, jugular cannulas and urine catheters were placed in all cows. On d 2, FRA-dosed cows received a single dosage of 150 g of pure FRA powder at 0830 h via their fistula (n=4) or a balling gun for nonfistulated cows (n=2). Plasma, urine, feces, feed, orts, milk, and rumen fluid were sampled intensively for the next 36 h and analyzed for FRA concentration. On d 8, the cows crossed over and the experiment was repeated. When compared with the control, FRA administration did not have an effect on dry matter intake, milk yield, milk fat yield, milk protein yield, somatic cell count, or neutral detergent fiber content of orts and feces. The concentration of FRA in the feces did not change as a result of FRA dosage. As expected, FRA concentration increased dramatically upon FRA dosage and decreased over time until returning to basal levels in rumen fluid (4 h after dosage), plasma (5.5 h after dosage), urine (10 h after dosage), and milk (14 h after dosage). Baseline values for FRA in urine and rumen fluid were variable among cows and had an effect on FRA concentration in FRA-dosed cows. From this study, it is observed that orally ingested FRA can be transported into the milk and that the physiological transfer of FRA occurs from rumen to milk within 6.5 h or the first milking after dosage. Ferulic acid may affect the functionality of milk due to its antioxidant, anticancer, and antibacterial activities. Future research will be required to elucidate whether FRA in milk is bioavailable and bioactive, and to evaluate the complete sensory and microbiological effects of increased FRA and FRA degradation products in milk.

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