Effect of chromium on bioenergetics and leukocyte dynamics following immunoactivation in lactating Holstein cows

J Dairy Sci. 2018 Jun;101(6):5515-5530. doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-13899. Epub 2018 Mar 15.


Activated immune cells are insulin sensitive and utilize copious amounts of glucose. Because chromium (Cr) increases insulin sensitivity and may be immunomodulatory, our objective was to evaluate the effect of supplemental Cr (KemTrace Cr propionate, 20 g/d; Kemin Industries Inc., Des Moines, IA) on immune system glucose utilization and immune system dynamics following an intravenous endotoxin challenge in lactating Holstein cows. Twenty cows (320 ± 18 d in milk) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: (1) pair-fed (PF) control (PF-CON; 5 mL of saline; n = 5), (2) PF and Cr supplemented (PF-Cr; 5 mL of saline; n = 5), (3) lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-euglycemic clamp and control supplemented (LPS-CON; 0.375 µg/kg of body weight LPS; n = 5), and (4) LPS-euglycemic clamp and Cr supplemented (LPS-Cr; 0.375 µg/kg of body weight LPS; n = 5). The experiment was conducted serially in 3 periods (P). During P1 (3 d), cows received their respective dietary treatments and baseline values were obtained. At the initiation of P2 (2 d), either a 12-h LPS-euglycemic clamp was conducted or cows were PF to their respective dietary counterparts. During P3 (3 d), cows consumed feed ad libitum and continued to receive their respective dietary treatment. During P2, LPS administration decreased dry matter intake (DMI; 40%) similarly among diets, and by experimental design the pattern and magnitude of reduced DMI were similar in the PF cohorts. During P3, LPS-Cr cows tended to have decreased DMI (6%) relative to LPS-CON cows. Relative to controls, milk yield from LPS-challenged cows decreased (58%) during P2 and LPS-Cr cows produced less (16%) milk than LPS-CON cows. During P3, milk yield progressively increased similarly in LPS-administered cows, but overall milk yield remained decreased (24%) compared with PF controls. There were no dietary treatment differences in milk yield during P3. Circulating insulin increased 9- and 15-fold in LPS-administered cows at 6 and 12 h postbolus, respectively, compared with PF controls. Compared with LPS-CON cows, circulating insulin in LPS-Cr cows was decreased (48%) at 6 h postbolus. Relative to PF cows, circulating LPS binding protein and serum amyloid A from LPS-administered cows increased 2- and 5-fold, respectively. Compared with PF cows, blood neutrophil counts in LPS-infused cows initially decreased, then gradually increased 163%. Between 18 and 48 h postbolus, the number of neutrophils was increased (12%) in LPS-Cr versus LPS-CON cows. The 12-h total glucose deficit was 220 and 1,777 g for the PF and LPS treatments, respectively, but glucose utilization following immune activation was not influenced by Cr. In summary, supplemental Cr reduced the insulin response and increased circulating neutrophils following an LPS challenge but did not appear to alter the immune system's glucose requirement following acute and intense activation.

Keywords: chromium; insulin; lipopolysaccharide; neutrophil.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Cattle / immunology*
  • Chromium / pharmacology*
  • Diet
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Lactation*
  • Leukocytes / immunology*
  • Milk


  • Blood Glucose
  • Chromium