Dietary carbohydrates and amino acids influence oocyte quality in dairy heifers

JA Rooke, A Ainslie, RG Watt, FM Alink, TG McEvoy, KD Sinclair, PC Garnsworthy, R Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of the present experiment was to determine whether increasing plasma insulin by different nutritional regimes affects oocyte quality. Holstein dairy heifers (eight per treatment) were assigned, using a two times two factorial design, to diets containing either low or high dietary leucine and either low or high dietary starch. Each heifer underwent six sessions of ovum pick-up beginning 25 days after introduction of the diets. Oocyte quality was assessed by development to the blastocyst stage in synthetic oviducal fluid following in vitro fertilisation. Feeding diets containing high leucine resulted in significantly higher plasma free leucine and tyrosine concentrations. The high-starch diet significantly increased plasma insulin but not glucagon concentration, whereas high dietary leucine increased plasma glucagon but not insulin. Oocyte cleavage was not influenced by diet. The high-starch diet, which was associated with a high plasma insulin : glucagon ratio, had adverse effects on oocyte quality that were avoided when leucine intake was increased. There was an association between total plasma free amino acid concentration and oocyte cleavage. Therefore, in dairy heifers dietary amino acids and carbohydrates during antral follicle development appear to mediate effects on oocyte quality by different mechanisms. These findings have implications for both diet formulation and feeding regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419 - 427
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusFirst published - 2009

Bibliographical note



  • Amino acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Dairy cattle
  • Nutrition
  • Oocyte quality


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