Mass-spec-based urinary metabotyping around parturition identifies screening biomarkers for subclinical mastitis in dairy cows

Res Vet Sci. 2020 Apr;129:39-52. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2020.01.001. Epub 2020 Jan 3.


The objective of this study was to determine urinary metabotypes of dairy cows prior to, during, and after diagnosis of subclinical mastitis (SCM). Twenty controls (CON) and 6 cows with SCM were included in the study. DI/LC-MS/MS was used to measure 186 metabolites in the urine at -8 and - 4 wks prepartum, disease diagnosis, and at +4 and + 8 wks postpartum. Results showed a total of 24 and 27 metabolites that differentiated SCM and CON cows at -8 and - 4 wks, respectively, with 5 top metabolites having an accuracy to predict SCM of 1.0, for both time point. Altered metabolites included several acylcarnitines (ACs), phosphatidylcholines (PCs), amino acids (AAs), and biogenic amines (BAs). During SCM diagnosis week there were a total of 22 metabolites that differentiated the SCM and CON cows including 13 ACs, 5 AAs, hexose, and phosphatidylethanolamine ae C44:3. The top 5 metabolites Symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA), methylglutarylcarnitine, dodecanoylcarnitine, phosphatidylethanolamine ae C42:1, and phosphatidylethanolamine ae C42:0 showed an AUC of 1.0. Metabolite alterations continued at +4 and + 8 wks postpartum with 13 (9 ACs, 3 glycerophospholipids, and 1 BA) and 28 metabolites (14 ACs, 2 glycerophospholipids, hexose, 8 AAs, and 2 BAs) that differentiated the two groups, respectively. The top 5 most important metabolites, for both time points, showed AUCs of 1.0. Results of this study showed that typical urinary metabotypes preceded SCM event starting from -8 and - 4 wks prepartum. Metabotypes typical of SCM continued to be present during the week of SCM and at +4 and + 8 wks postpartum. These data show that the urine of dairy cows can be used with very high accuracy for screening dairy cows for susceptibility to SCM prior to entering into the dry off period and a potential new pen-side test can help dairy producers and veterinarians to make selective treatments.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Metabolic disease; Metabolomics; Subacute clinical mastitis; Transition dairy cows; Urine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asymptomatic Infections
  • Biomarkers / urine*
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography, Liquid / veterinary
  • Female
  • Mastitis, Bovine / diagnosis*
  • Metabolome*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / veterinary
  • Urine / chemistry*


  • Biomarkers