Serum metabolomics identifies metabolite panels that differentiate lame dairy cows from healthy ones

Metabolomics. 2020 Jun 13;16(6):73. doi: 10.1007/s11306-020-01693-z.


Introduction: Although much is known about lameness application of metabolomics technologies to better understanding its etiology and pathogenesis is of utmost interest.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate serum metabolite alterations in pre-lame, lame and post-lame dairy cows in order to identify potential screening serum metabolite biomarkers for lameness and better understand its pathobiology.

Methods: A combination of direct injection and tandem mass spectrometry (DI-MS/MS) with a reverse-phase liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis was performed in the serum of six cases of lameness and 20 healthy control cows (CON) at - 8 and - 4 weeks prepartum, at lameness diagnosis week, and at + 4 and + 8 weeks postpartum.

Results: Data indicated that pre-lame, lame, and post-lame cows experienced altered concentrations of multiple metabolites. It is interesting to note that throughout the 16-weeks of the study, 7 serum metabolites [e.g., diacyl-phosphatidylcholine (PC aa) C30:0, phosphatidylcholine acyl-alkyl (PC ae) C40:2, sphingomyelin (SM) (OH) C14:1, SM C18:0, isoleucine (Ile), leucine (Leu), and lysine (Lys)] differentiated CON cows from the lame ones. Furthermore, 4 metabolic pathways (i.e., Lys degradation, biotin metabolism, tryptophan (Trp) metabolism, and valine [(Val)-Leu-Ile degradation) were altered in cows with lameness during the onset and progression of the disease.

Conclusion: Multiple metabolite and pathway alterations were identified in the serum of pre-lame, lame, and post-lame cows that through light into the pathobiology of the disease and that can be used as potential biomarker sets that can predict the risk of lameness in dairy cows.

Keywords: DI/LC–MS/MS; Dairy cows; Lameness; Metabolomics serum biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / diagnosis
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Lameness, Animal / diagnosis
  • Lameness, Animal / metabolism*
  • Metabolome / physiology
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Serum / chemistry
  • Serum / metabolism*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods


  • Biomarkers