GC-MS Metabolomics Identifies Metabolite Alterations That Precede Subclinical Mastitis in the Blood of Transition Dairy Cows

J Proteome Res. 2017 Feb 3;16(2):433-446. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00538. Epub 2016 Nov 28.


The objectives of this study were to determine alterations in the serum metabolites related to amino acid (AA), carbohydrate, and lipid metabolism in transition dairy cows before diagnosis of subclinical mastitis (SCM), during, and after diagnosis of disease. A subclinical mastitis case was determined as a cow having somatic cell count (SCC) > 200 000/mL of milk for two or more consecutive reports. Blood samples were collected from 100 Holstein dairy cows at five time points at -8 and -4 weeks before parturition, at the week of SCM diagnosis, and +4 and +8 weeks after parturition. Twenty healthy control cows (CON) and six cows that were diagnosed with SCM were selected for serum analysis with GC-MS. At -8 weeks a total of 13 metabolites were significantly altered in SCM cows. In addition, at the week of SCM diagnosis 17 metabolites were altered in these cows. Four weeks after parturition 10 metabolites were altered in SCM cows and at +8 weeks 11 metabolites were found to be different between the two groups. Valine (Val), serine (Ser), tyrosine (Tyr), and phenylalanine (Phe) had very good predictive abilities for SCM and could be used at -8 weeks and -4 weeks before calving. Combination of Val, isoleucine (Ile), Ser, and proline (Pro) can be used as diagnostic biomarkers of SCM during early stages of lactation at +4 to +8 weeks after parturition. In conclusion, SCM is preceded and followed by alteration in AA metabolism.

Keywords: GC−MS; amino acids; carbohydrates; dairy cow; metabolomics; subclinical mastitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cattle
  • Cell Count
  • Dairying
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Mastitis, Bovine / blood
  • Mastitis, Bovine / diagnosis*
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Milk / cytology
  • Parturition / physiology
  • Phenylalanine / blood*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Serine / blood*
  • Tyrosine / blood*
  • Valine / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Tyrosine
  • Serine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine