Background: β-Carotene is an important precursor of vitamin A, and is associated with bovine fertility. β-Carotene concentrations in plasma are used to optimize β-carotene supplementation in cattle, but measurement requires specialized equipment to separate plasma and extract and measure β-carotene, either using spectrophotometry or high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
Objective: The objective of this study was to validate a new 2-step point-of-care (POC) assay for measuring β-carotene in whole blood and plasma.
Methods: β-carotene concentrations in plasma from 166 cows were measured using HPLC and compared with results obtained using a POC assay, the iCheck-iEx-Carotene test kit. Whole blood samples from 23 of these cattle were also evaluated using the POC assay and compared with HPLC-plasma results from the same 23 animals. The POC assay includes an extraction vial (iEx Carotene) and hand-held photometer (iCheck Carotene).
Results: Concentrations of β-carotene in plasma measured using the POC assay ranged from 0.40 to 15.84 mg/L (n = 166). No differences were observed between methods for assay of plasma (mean ± SD; n = 166): HPLC-plasma 4.23 ± 2.35 mg/L; POC-plasma 4.49 ± 2.36 mg/L. Similar good agreement was found when plasma analyzed using HPLC was compared with whole blood analyzed using the POC system (n = 23): HPLC-plasma 3.46 ± 2.12 mg/L; POC-whole blood 3.67 ± 2.29 mg/L.
Conclusions: Concentrations of β-carotene can be measured in blood and plasma from cattle easily and rapidly using a POC assay, and results are comparable to those obtained by the highly sophisticated HPLC method. Immediate feedback regarding β-carotene deficiency facilitates rapid and appropriate optimization of β-carotene supplementation in feed.
© 2012 American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology.