This study investigated the relationship between oxidative damage and the effect of vitamin E supplementation in blood, milk, and liver tissue in 16 periparturient heifers. The question is whether measurements of oxidative and vitamin E status in blood of a periparturient cow are representative of the total body, given that blood concentrations of both vitamin E and oxidative stress products change around this period. The daily vitamin E intake of the vitamin E-supplemented Holstein-Friesian heifers (n = 8) was 3,000 international units and was started 2 mo before calving; the control heifers (n = 8) were not supplemented. Oxidative damage was determined on the basis of malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations. Blood was sampled 9 times before calving, on calving day, and twice after calving. Liver biopsies were taken at wk -5, -1, and 2 relative to calving day. Milk was obtained from all heifers immediately after calving, the first 2 milkings and on d 3, 7, and 14 at 0600 h. Serum and liver tissue were analyzed for vitamin E, cholesterol, and MDA; and milk samples were analyzed for vitamin E, MDA, fat, protein, and somatic cell count. The results showed that vitamin E supplements increased both absolute vitamin E concentrations and the ratio of vitamin E to cholesterol in blood and liver tissue. Absolute vitamin E concentration in milk tended to be greater in supplemented cows. Based on the increased MDA blood concentrations at calving, it seems that dairy heifers experience oxidative stress. The effect of vitamin E on MDA differs between the blood, liver, and mammary gland. Vitamin E supplementation could not prevent the increase in blood MDA at calving, but the significantly lower MDA blood concentrations of supplemented cows in the 2 wk after calving suggest that vitamin E has a role in recovery from parturition-related oxidative stress. Vitamin E supplementation reduced oxidative damage in liver, whereas no obvious effect was found on milk MDA concentrations. A strong relationship was found between blood and liver vitamin E and the ratio of vitamin E to cholesterol. Concentrations of MDA in blood and milk were also strongly related. The results show that the relationship between oxidative damage and vitamin E differs within blood, liver tissue, and milk. This implies that oxidative and vitamin E status calculated on the basis of blood values alone should be interpreted with caution and cannot be extrapolated to the whole animal.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2008 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Dairy heifer
- Oxidative damage
- Vitamin E