Correlations between milk and plasma levels of amino and carboxylic acids in dairy cows

J Proteome Res. 2013 Nov 1;12(11):5223-32. doi: 10.1021/pr4006537. Epub 2013 Aug 23.


The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between the concentrations of 19 amino acids, glucose, and seven carboxylic acids in the blood and milk of dairy cows and their correlations with established markers of ketosis. To that end, blood plasma and milk specimens were collected throughout lactation in two breeds of dairy cows of different milk yield. Plasma concentrations of glucose, pyruvate, lactate, α-aminobutyrate, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), and most amino acids, except for glutamate and aspartate, were on average 9.9-fold higher than their respective milk levels. In contrast, glutamate, aspartate, and the Krebs cycle intermediates succinate, fumarate, malate, and citrate were on average 9.1-fold higher in milk than in plasma. For most metabolites, with the exception of BHBA and threonine, no significant correlations were observed between their levels in plasma and milk. Additionally, milk levels of acetone showed significant direct relationships with the glycine-to-alanine ratio and the BHBA concentration in plasma. The marked decline in plasma concentrations of glucose, pyruvate, lactate, and alanine in cows with plasma BHBA levels above the diagnostic cutoff point for subclinical ketosis suggests that these animals fail to meet their glucose demand and, as a consequence, rely increasingly on ketone bodies as a source of energy. The concomitant increase in plasma glycine may reflect not only the excessive depletion of protein reserves but also a potential deficiency of vitamin B6.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood*
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Carboxylic Acids / blood*
  • Carboxylic Acids / metabolism*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Milk / metabolism*


  • Amino Acids
  • Carboxylic Acids