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Urine test may aid subclinical mastitis prediction

April 17, 2020


Tim Lundeen



Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a bioassay using cow urine to screen for subclinical mastitis (SCM) in dairy cattle.


The research team, Grzegorz Zwierzchowski, Guanshi Zhang, Rupasri Mandal, David S. Wishart and Burim N. Ametaj, sought to determine urinary metabotypes of dairy cows prior to, during and after SCM diagnosis by examining 20 control and six SCM cows. They measured 186 metabolites in the urine at eight and four weeks prepartum, at disease diagnosis and at four and eight weeks postpartum.


Zwierzchowski et al. recently reported their findings in the journal Research in Veterinary Science.


Their results showed a total of 24 and 27 metabolites that differentiated SCM and control cows at eight and four weeks prepartum, respectively, with the top five metabolites having an accuracy to predict SCM of 1.0 for both time points, the researchers reported.


Altered metabolites included several acylcarnitines (ACs), phosphatidylcholines (PCs), amino acids and biogenic amines, Zwierzchowski et al. noted.


During the SCM diagnosis week, the researchers observed a total of 22 metabolites that differentiated the SCM and control cows, including 13 acylcarnitines, five amino acids, hexose and phosphatidylethanolamine ae C44:3.


Metabolite alterations continued at four and eight weeks postpartum with 13 (nine acylcarnitines, three glycerophospholipids and one biogenic amine) and 28 metabolites (14 acylcarnitines, two glycerophospholipids, hexose, eight amino acids and two biogenic amines) that differentiated the two groups, respectively.


Zwierzchowski et al. said their experiment showed that typical urinary metabotypes preceded an SCM event starting from eight weeks and four weeks prepartum, and these metabotypes continued to be present during the week of SCM diagnosis and through eight weeks postpartum.


They concluded that the urine of dairy cows can be used with very high accuracy to screen dairy cows for susceptibility to SCM prior to entering into the dry-off period as well as form the basis for a potential new pen-side test that could help dairy producers and veterinarians make selective treatment decisions.


Zwierzchowski is currently with the faculty of biology and biotechnology at the University of Warmia & Mazury in Poland.


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