Analyses of the correlation between dermal and blood carotenoids in female cattle by optical methods

J Biomed Opt. 2013 Jun;18(6):061219. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.18.6.061219.


Herd health programs for the maintenance of welfare and productivity in cattle need efficient tools for monitoring the health of individual animals. Recent reports demonstrate that the oxidative status is related to various stress conditions in dairy cows. Biomarkers, among other carotenoids, could serve as indicators of stress originating from the environment (e.g., heat stress or sun radiation) or from the animal itself (e.g., disease). To date, only invasive in vitro tests are available to assess the oxidative status in cattle. The present study compares the results of optical noninvasive in vivo measurements of dermal carotenoids in cattle udder skin using an LED-based miniaturized spectroscopic system (MSS) with those obtained by photometric analysis of beta carotene in whole blood samples using a portable device. Correlations between the concentrations of dermal and blood carotenoids were calculated under consideration of the nutritional status of the animals. Significant correlation (R = 0.86) was found for cattle with a moderate to obese body condition. Thus, the blood and skin concentrations of the marker substance beta carotene are comparable under stable stress conditions of the cattle. This demonstrates that the MSS is suitable for noninvasive assessment of dermal carotenoid concentrations in cattle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Miniaturization / instrumentation
  • Nutritional Status
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Spectrum Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • beta Carotene / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • beta Carotene
  • Carotenoids