Postruminal synthesis modifies the odd- and branched-chain fatty acid profile from the duodenum to milk
Milk odd- and branched-chain fatty acids (OBCFA) have been suggested as potential biomarkers for rumen function. The potential of milk OBCFA as a biomarker depends on whether their profile reflects the profile observed in the duodenum. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether the OBCFA profile in duodenum samples is reflected in plasma and milk. For this, 2 dairy cattle experiments were used. In experiment 1, 4 Holstein cows fitted with rumen and proximal duodenum cannulas were used in a 4 × 4 Latin square design. The treatments consisted of 2 nitrogen levels (143 vs. 110 g of crude protein/kg of dry matter for high and low N, respectively) combined with either 1 of the 2 energy sources (i.e., starch from barley, corn, and wheat or fiber from soybean hulls and dehydrated beet pulp). In experiment 2, 4 Holstein cows fitted with rumen and proximal duodenum cannulas were used in a 3 × 3 Latin square design, with the treatments consisting of 3 diets: (1) RNB−, a diet with a crude protein content of 122 g/kg of dry matter, predicted to provide protein digested in the small intestine according to the requirement of the animals, but with a shortage of rumen degradable protein; (2) RNB− to which 6 g/d of niacin was added through inclusion in the mineral and vitamin premix, and (3) RNB− to which urea was added to balance rumen degradable N supply resulting in a CP content of 156 g/kg of dry matter. In both experiments, samples of duodenal digesta, plasma, and milk were collected and analyzed for fatty acids. Additionally, lipids in plasma samples were separated in lipid classes and analyzed for fatty acids. The OBCFA profile in milk was enriched in 15:0, iso-17:0, anteiso-17:0, and cis-9–17:1 as compared with duodenal samples, and milk secretions even exceeded duodenal flows, which suggests occurrence of postruminal synthesis, such as de novo synthesis, desaturation, and elongation. The postruminal modification of the OBCFA profile might hamper the application of OBCFA as diagnostic tools of rumen function.