Plasma amino acids and metabolic profiling of dairy cows in response to a bolus duodenal infusion of leucine
Leucine (Leu), one of the three branch chain amino acids, acts as a signaling molecule in the regulation of overall amino acid (AA) and protein metabolism. Leucine is also considered to be a potent stimulus for the secretion of insulin from pancreatice β-cells. Our objective was to study the effects of a duodenal bolus infusion of Leu on insulin and glucagon secretion, on plasma AA concentrations, and to do a metabolomic profiling of dairy cows as compared to infusions with either glucose or saline. Six duodenum-fistulated Holstein cows were studied in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design with 3 periods of 7 days, in which the treatments were applied at the end of each period. The treatments were duodenal bolus infusions of Leu (DIL; 0.15 g/kg body weight), glucose (DIG; at Leu equimolar dosage) or saline (SAL). On the day of infusion, the treatments were duodenally infused after 5 h of fasting. Blood samples were collected at -15, 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 120, 180, 210, 240 and 300 min relative to the start of infusion. Blood plasma was assayed for concentrations of insulin, glucagon, glucose and AA. The metabolome was also characterized in selected plasma samples (i.e. from 0, 50, and 120 min relative to the infusion). Body weight, feed intake, milk yield and milk composition were recorded throughout the experiment. The Leu infusion resulted in significant increases of Leu in plasma reaching 20 and 15-fold greater values than that in DIG and SAL, respectively. The elevation of plasma Leu concentrations after the infusion led to a significant decrease (P<0.05) in the plasma concentrations of isoleucine, valine, glycine, and alanine. In addition, the mean concentrations of lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, taurine, threonine, and asparagine across all time-points in plasma of DIL cows were reduced (P<0.05) compared with the other groups. In contrast to the working hypothesis about an insulinotropic effect of Leu, the circulating concentrations of insulin were not affected by Leu. In DIG, insulin and glucose concentrations peaked at 30–40 and 40–50 min after the infusion, respectively. Insulin concentrations were greater (P<0.05) from 30–40 min in DIG than DIL and SAL, and glucose was elevated in DIG over DIL and SAL from 30–75 min and 40–50 min, respectively. Multivariate metabolomics data analysis (principal component analysis and partial least squares discriminant analysis) revealed a clear separation when the DIL cows were compared with the DIG and SAL cows at 50 and 120 min after the infusion. By using this analysis, several metabolites, mainly acylcarnitines, methionine sulfoxide and components from the kynurenine pathway were identified as the most relevant for separating the treatment groups. These results suggest that Leu regulates the plasma concentrations of branched-chain AA, and other AA, apparently by stimulating their influx into the cells from the circulation. A single-dose duodenal infusion of Leu did not elicit an apparent insulin response, but affected multiple intermediary metabolic pathways including AA and energy metabolism by mechanisms yet to be elucidated.