Choline absorption and evaluation of bioavailability markers when supplementing choline to lactating dairy cows

M. J. de Veth, V. M. Artegoitia, S. R. Campagna, H. Lapierre, F. Harte, C. L. Girard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The metabolites of choline have a central role in many mammalian biological processes, and choline supplementation to the periparturient dairy cow improves hepatic lipid metabolism. However, variability in responses to choline supplementation has highlighted a lack of understanding of choline absorption in the lactating dairy cow. Our objective was to determine net choline absorption by measuring net portal fluxes of choline and choline metabolites in cows receiving either dietary supplements of rumen-protected choline (RPC) or abomasal delivery of choline (ADC). We also evaluated markers for choline bioavailability by examining relationships between net portal absorption of choline and choline metabolites in plasma and milk. Five late-lactation Holstein cows were used in a 5 × 5 Latin square design, with 5-d treatment periods and a 2-d interval between periods. Treatments were (1) control (0 g/d of choline), (2) 12.5 g/d of choline fed as RPC, (3) 25 g/d of choline fed as RPC, (4) 12.5 g/d of choline provided as ADC, and (5) 25 g/d of choline provided as ADC. At the end of each 5-d period, milk was sampled and 9 blood samples were collected simultaneously from an artery and portal vein at 30-min intervals. Plasma, milk, and feed ingredient concentrations of acetylcholine, betaine, free choline, glycerophosphocholine, lysophosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylcholine, phosphocholine, and sphingomyelin were quantified by hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. With an increasing dose of ADC, the net portal flux of free choline increased and regression analysis indicated 61% net absorption of the infused dose. Among the choline metabolites, only concentrations of betaine, free choline, and phosphocholine increased in both arterial plasma (3.9, 1.9, and 0.4 times, respectively) and milk (2.5, 1.4, and 1.0 times, respectively) with 25 g/d of ADC relative to the control. For RPC, the net portal flux of free choline was low relative to ADC (13%), which was similar to the relative difference observed in the concentrations and yields of milk free choline and betaine (averaged 21%). When evaluating markers for choline bioavailability, betaine was the leading candidate. Betaine in plasma and milk (alone or in combination with phosphocholine) was strongly associated with net free choline portal flux (coefficient of determination ranging from 0.64 to 0.79). In summary, free choline supply to the lactating dairy cow increases only specific choline metabolites in plasma and milk, which can be potential markers for choline bioavailability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9732-9744
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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