Use of principal component analysis to investigate the origin of heptadecenoic and conjugated linoleic acids in milk

V Fievez, B Vlaeminck, MS Dhanoa, RJ Dewhurst

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83 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper was the application of principal component analysis (PCA) 1) to elucidate mutual metabolic relationships between milk fatty acids (FA) and 2) to illustrate the origin of milk FA, in particular C17:1 and cis-9,trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid. Data were combined from 3 experiments with lactating Holstein-Friesian cows offered diets based on grass or legume silage and concentrates. Loading plots of PCA based on milk FA concentrations showed 4 groups of milk FA, having similar precursors or metabolic pathways in the rumen and/or mammary gland: medium-chain saturated FA, de novo synthesized from acetate and β-hydroxybutyrate; monoenoic milk FA, products of Δ9-desaturase activity in the mammary gland; odd chain FA of rumen microbial origin and C18:0, n-6 C18:2, and n-3 C18:3 of dietary origin or the result of rumen biohydrogenation. Loading plots of PCA based on both milk and duodenal FA concentrations as well as on milk FA yields and duodenal FA flows further illustrated the importance of postabsorptive synthesis of the milk medium chain saturated and monoenoic FA and the direct absorption from the blood stream of odd chain FA, C18:0, n-6 C18:2, and n-3 C18:3. In all loading plots, milk oleic acid (C18:1) appeared intermediate between clusters of 18-carbon FA and monoenoic FA, illustrating its dual (dietary and endogenous production) origin. Milk C17:1 was suggested to be a desaturation product of C17:0, in common with other milk monoenoic FA. Finally, the PCA technique, based on milk FA patterns of one experiment, was applied to investigate factors determining cis-9,trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid concentrations in milk. Within the range of diets and cows studied here, we showed changes in cis-9,trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid to be mainly dependent on vaccenic acid supply and to a lesser extent on variation in desaturase activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4047-4053
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 2003


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