Correlation between liver lipidosis, body condition score variation, and hepatic analytes in dairy cows


hepatic lipidosis, weight, blood metabolites, hepatic function, calculated liver function index, dairy cattle.

How to Cite

Batista, C. P., Gonçalves, R. S., Contreras , L. V. Q., Valle, S. de F., & González, F. (2022). Correlation between liver lipidosis, body condition score variation, and hepatic analytes in dairy cows . Brazilian Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 44, e005121.


Liver lipidosis is a metabolic disorder mostly observed in high yielding dairy cattle, especially during the transition period. The aim of this study was to determine the correlation between hepatic lipid infiltration, biochemical indicators of liver function, and body condition score (BCS) variation in dairy cows. Fifty-one multiparous Holstein cows raised in a confined system were evaluated. Liver biopsies and blood samples were collected, and BCS was measured on days 3 and 28 postpartum. Lipid infiltration was determined by histologic examination. The plasma activity of aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and gamma-glutamyl transferase and concentration of beta-hydroxybutyrate, non-esterified fatty acids, albumin, total bilirubin, and cholesterol were determined. BCS was measured using objective (camera) and subjective (visual) methods. Mild lipid infiltration was found in 3.92% of cows sampled on day 3 and 5.88% on day 28. Bilirubin was significantly higher on day 3 than on day 28 postpartum, and cholesterol was significantly higher on day 28 than on day 3 in all cows. There was no difference in biochemical analytes between cows with and without lipidosis. On day 3, mean subjective BCS was 3.10 and objective BCS was 3.16, while on day 28, these scores were 2.91 and 2.99, respectively. The calculated liver function index (LFI) was found to be a more sensitive indicator of liver function than the hepatic analytes evaluated. No correlation between BCS variation and lipid infiltration was found. Cholesterol and bilirubin levels showed the most remarkable changes during the early postpartum period. LFI is a potential indicator of postpartum liver function.


Allison, R. W. (2012). Evaluation of the liver. In M. A. Thrall, G. Weiser, R. W. Allison & T. W. Campbell. Veterinary Hematology and Clinical Chemistry (2nd ed., pp. 401-424). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Bell, A. W. (1995). Regulation of organic nutrient metabolism during transition from late pregnancy to early lactation. Journal of Animal Science, 73(9), 2804-2819. PMid:8582872.

Bertoni, G., & Trevisi, E. (2013). Use of the liver activity index and other metabolic variables in the assessment of metabolic health in dairy herds. The Veterinary Clinics of North America. Food Animal Practice, 29(2), 413-431. PMid:23809898.

Bobe, G., Young, J. W., & Beitz, D. C. (2004). Invited review: Pathology, etiology, prevention, and treatment of fatty liver in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 87(10), 3105-3124. 0302(04)73446-3. PMid:15377589.

Braga, M. M., Castillos, L. M. L., & Santos, M. N. (1985). Hepatic biopsy in bovines: Proposal for a new technique. Revista Centro Ciências Rurais, 15, 79-88.

Corassin, C. H., Machado, P. F., Coldebella, A., Cassoli, L. D., & Soriano, S. (2011). Importância das desordens do periparto e seus fatores de risco sobre a produção de leite de vacas Holandesas. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 32(3), 1101-1110.

Cozzi, G., Ravarotto, L., Gottardo, F., Stefani, A. L., Contiero, B., Moro, L., Brscic, M., & Dalvit, P. (2011). Reference values for blood parameters in Holstein dairy cows: Effects of parity, stage of lactation, and season of production. Journal of Dairy Science, 94(8), 3895-3901. PMid:21787926.

Divers, T. J., & Peek, S. F. (2018). Rebhun’s Diseases of Dairy Cattle (3rd ed). Elsevier.

Esposito, G., Irons, P. C., Webb, E. C., & Chapwanya, A. (2014). Interactions between negative energy balance, metabolic diseases, uterine health and immune response in transition dairy cows. Animal Reproduction Science, 144(3-4), 60-71. PMid:24378117.

Ferguson, J. D., Byers, D., & Ferry, J. (1994). Round table discussion: Body condition of lactating cows. Agricultural Practices, 15(4), 17-21.

Garnsworthy, P. (2013). Nutritional manipulation of the postpartum energy balance and the impact on fertility. In Annals New Approaches in Bovine Production and Reproduction Course XVII CONAPEC. CONAPEC.

Garverick, H. A., Harris, M. N., Vogel-Bluel, R., Sampson, J. D., Bader, J., Lamberson, W. R., Spain, J. N., Lucy, M. C., & Youngquist, R. S. (2013). Concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids and glucose in blood of periparturient dairy cows are indicative of pregnancy success at first insemination. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(1), 181-188. PMid:23141836.

Giuliodori, M. J., Delavaud, C., Chilliard, Y., Becú-Villalobos, D., Lacau-Mengido, I., & de la Sota, R. L. (2011). High NEFA concentrations around parturition are associated with delayed ovulations in grazing dairy cows. Livestock Science, 141(2-3), 123-128.

González, F. H. D., Conceição, T., Siqueira, A. J. S., & Rosa, V. L. (2000). Variações sangüíneas de uréia, creatinina, albumina e fósforo em bovinos de corte no Rio Grande do Sul. A Hora Veterinária, 20(117), 59-62.

González, F. H. D., Muiño, R., Pereira, V., Campos, R., & Benedito, J. L. (2011). Relationship among blood indicators of lipomobilization and hepatic function during early lactation in high-yielding dairy cows. Journal of Veterinary Science, 12(3), 251-255. PMid:21897097.

Graugnard, D. E., Bionaz, M., Trevisi, E., Moyes, K. M., Salak-Johnson, J. L., Wallace, R. L., Drackley, J. K., Bertoni, G., & Loor, J. J. (2012). Blood immunometabolic indices and polymorphonuclear neutrophil function in peripartum dairy cows are altered by level of dietary energy prepartum. Journal of Dairy Science, 95(4), 1749-1758. PMid:22459823.

Graugnard, D. E., Moyes, K. M., Trevisi, E., Khan, M. J., Keisler, D., Drackley, J. K., Bertoni, G., & Loor, J. J. (2013). Liver lipid content and inflammatory metabolic indices in peripartal dairy cows are altered in response to prepartal energy intake and postpartal intramammary inflammatory challenge. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(2), 918-935. PMid:23261380.

Gross, J. J., Schwarz, F. J., Eder, K., van Dorland, H. A., & Bruckmaier, R. M. (2013). Liver fat content and lipid metabolism in dairy cows during early lactation and during a mid-lactation feed restriction. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(8), 5008-5017. PMid:23746584.

Guretzky, N. A., Carlson, D. B., Garrett, J. E., & Drackley, J. K. (2006). Lipid metabolite profiles and milk production for Holstein and Jersey cows fed rumen-protected choline during the periparturient period. Journal of Dairy Science, 89(1), 188-200. PMid:16357282.

Jorjong, S., Van Knegsel, A. T. M., Verwaeren, J., Lahoz, M. V., Bruckmaier, R. M., De Baets, B., Kemp, B., & Fievez, V. (2014). Milk fatty acids as possible biomarkers to early diagnose elevated concentrations of blood plasma nonesterified fatty acids in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 97(11), 7054-7064. jds.2014-8039. PMid:25200787.

Jorritsma, R., Jorritsma, H., Schukken, Y. H., Bartlett, P. C., Wensing, T., & Wentink, G. H. (2001). Prevalence and indicators of postpartum fatty infiltration of the liver in nine commercial dairy herds in the Netherlands. Livestock Production Science, 68(1), 53-60.

Leblanc, S. J. (2012). Interactions of metabolism, inflammation, and reproductive tract health in the postpartum period in dairy cattle. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 47(Suppl 5), 18-30. PMid:22913557.

Mann, S., Nydam, D. V., Abuelo, A., Leal Yepes, F. A., Overton, T. R., & Wakshlag, J. J. (2016). Insulin signaling, inflammation, and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue of transition dairy cows either overfed energy during the prepartum period or fed a controlled-energy diet. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(8), 6737-6752. PMid:27209137.

National Research Council – NRC. (2001). Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle: Seventh. The National Academies Press.

Ospina, P. A., Nydam, D. V., Stokol, T., & Overton, T. R. (2010). Evaluation of nonesterified fatty acids and hydroxybutyrate in transition dairy cattle in the northeastern United States: critical thresholds for prediction of clinical diseases. Journal of Dairy Science, 93(2), 546-554. PMid:20105526.

Piñeiro, J. M., Menichetti, B. T., Barragan, A. A., Relling, A. E., Weiss, W. P., Bas, S., & Schuenemann, G. M. (2019). Associations of pre- and postpartum lying time with metabolic, inflammation, and health status of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 102(4), 3348-3361. PMid:30799119.

Pryce, J. E., Coffey, M. P., & Simm, G. (2001). The relationship between body condition score and reproductive performance. Journal of Dairy Science, 84(6), 1508-1515. PMid:11417711.

Quiroz-Rocha, G. F., Leblanc, S. J., Duffield, T. F., Jefferson, B., Wood, D., Leslie, K. E., & Jacobs, R. M. (2010). Short communication: Effect of sampling time relative to the first daily feeding on interpretation of serum fatty acid and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations in dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 93(5), 2030-2033. PMid:20412917.

Santos, J. E. P. (2011). Metabolic disorders. In, T. T. Berchielli, V. A. Pires, & G. S. Oliveira. Ruminant Nutrition (2nd ed., pp. 439–513). Funesp.

Sepulveda-Varas, P., Weary, D. M., Noro, M., & Von Keyserlingk, M. A. (2015). Transition diseases in grazing dairy cows are related to serum cholesterol and other analytes. PLoS One, 10(3), e0122317. PMid:25807462.

Song, X., Bokkers, E. A. M., van der Tol, P. P. J., Groot Koerkamp, P. W. G., & van Mourik, S. (2018). Automated body weight prediction of dairy cows using 3-dimensional vision. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(5), 4448-4459. PMid:29477535.

Trevisi, E., Amadori, M., Cogrossi, S., Razzuoli, E., & Bertoni, G. (2012). Metabolic stress and inflammatory response in high-yielding, periparturient dairy cows. Research in Veterinary Science, 93(2), 695-704. PMid:22197526.

Trevisi, E., Bertoni, G., Lombardelli, R., & Minuti, A. (2013). Relation of inflammation and liver function with the plasma cortisol response to adrenocorticotropin in early lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(9), 5712-5722. PMid:23831090.

Vanrobays, M. L., Vandenplas, J., Hammami, H., Froidmont, E., & Gengler, N. (2015). Novel method to predict body weight of primiparous dairy cows throughout the lactation. Journal of Dairy Science, 98(1), 692-697. PMid:25468694.

Weber, C., Schäff, C. T., Kautzsch, U., Börner, S., Erdmann, S., Görs, S., Röntgen, M., Sauerwein, H., Bruckmaier, R. M., Metges, C. C., Kuhla, B., & Hammon, H. M. (2016). Insulin-dependent glucose metabolism in dairy cows with variable fat mobilization around calving. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(8), 6665-6679. PMid:27179866.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2022 Chester Patrique Batista, Rodrigo Schallenberger Gonçalves, Laura Victoria Quishpe Contreras , Stella de Faria Valle, Félix González