Urine metabolic fingerprinting can be used to predict the risk of metritis and highlight the pathobiology of the disease in dairy cows

Metabolomics. 2018 Jun 8;14(6):83. doi: 10.1007/s11306-018-1379-z.


Introduction: Metritis is an uterine pathology that causes economic losses for the dairy industry. It is associated with lower reproductive efficiency, increased culling rates, decreased milk production and increased veterinary costs.

Objectives: To gain a more detailed view of the urine metabolome and to detect metabolite signature in cows with metritis. In addition, we aimed to identify early metabolites which can help to detect cows at risk to develop metritis in the future.

Methods: We used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy starting at 8 and 4 weeks prior to the expected day of parturition, during the week of diagnosis of metritis, and at 4 and 8 weeks after diagnosis of metritis in Holstein dairy cows.

Results: At 8 weeks before parturition, pre-metritic cows had a total of 30 altered metabolites. Interestingly, 28 of them increased in urine when compared with control cows (P < 0.05). At 4 weeks before parturition, 34 metabolites were altered. At the week of diagnosis of metritis a total of 20 metabolites were altered (P < 0.05). The alteration continued at 4 and 8 weeks after diagnosis.

Conclusions: The metabolic fingerprints in the urine of pre-metritic and metritic cows point toward excretion of multiple amino acids, tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolites and monosaccharides. Combination of galactose, leucine, lysine and panthotenate at 8 weeks before parturition might serve as predictive biomarkers for metritis.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Metabolic disease; Metabolomics; Metritis; Transition dairy cows; Urine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / urine*
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cattle Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cattle Diseases / urine
  • Endometritis / diagnosis
  • Endometritis / physiopathology
  • Endometritis / urine
  • Endometritis / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Metabolome*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Urinalysis / methods*


  • Biomarkers