A Targeted Serum Metabolomics GC-MS Approach Identifies Predictive Blood Biomarkers for Retained Placenta in Holstein Dairy Cows

Metabolites. 2021 Sep 17;11(9):633. doi: 10.3390/metabo11090633.


The retained placenta is a common pathology of dairy cows. It is associated with a significant drop in the dry matter intake, milk yield, and increased susceptibility of dairy cows to metritis, mastitis, and displaced abomasum. The objective of this study was to identify metabolic alterations that precede and are associated with the disease occurrence. Blood samples were collected from 100 dairy cows at -8 and -4 weeks prior to parturition and on the day of retained placenta, and only 16 healthy cows and 6 cows affected by retained placenta were selected to measure serum polar metabolites by a targeted gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) metabolomics approach. A total of 27 metabolites were identified and quantified in the serum. There were 10, 18, and 17 metabolites identified as being significantly altered during the three time periods studied. However, only nine metabolites were identified as being shared among the three time periods including five amino acids (Asp, Glu, Ser, Thr, and Tyr), one sugar (myo-inositol), phosphoric acid, and urea. The identified metabolites can be used as predictive biomarkers for the risk of retained placenta in dairy cows and might help explain the metabolic processes that occur prior to the incidence of the disease and throw light on the pathomechanisms of the disease.

Keywords: GC/MS; amino acids; biomarkers; dairy cow; metabolomics; retained placenta.