Somatotropin increases plasma ceramide in relation to enhanced milk yield in cows

A. N. Davis, W. A. Myers, C. Chang, B. N. Tate, J. E. Rico, M. Moniruzzaman, N. J. Haughey, J. W. McFadden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) changes metabolism to spare glucose for milk synthesis in cows. Ceramides inhibit insulin responsiveness in bovine adipocytes and are associated with insulin resistance and milk production in cows. The mechanisms by which rBST supports lactation may involve ceramide. Eight multiparous lactating Holstein cows were enrolled in a 2 × 2 replicated Latin square design with 14-d periods. Cows received a single rBST injection (Posilac; Elanco Animal Health, Indianapolis, IN; 0.062 mg/kg BW) or no injection (CON). An epinephrine challenge, insulin tolerance test, and liver biopsy were performed. Somatotropin enhanced the conversion of feed nutrients into milk components and increased plasma free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations (P < 0.01). Area-under-the-curves for FFA in response to epinephrine and insulin were greater in rBST-treated cows. In response to insulin, glucose concentrations (20- and 30-min post-challenge) and insulin area-under-the-curve were higher with rBST treatment (P < 0.05, <0.10, and <0.01), suggesting insulin resistance. Somatotropin modified the plasma lipidome. For example, rBST decreased plasma di- and triacylglycerol levels (eg, DG-50:1 and TG-18:0/16:0/16:1), phosphatidylcholines and sphingomyelins (P < 0.05). Somatotropin increased plasma total and very-long-chain (C22:0-, C24:0-, C26:0-) ceramide concentrations (P < 0.01). Liver ceramide concentrations were not modified. Plasma ceramides were positively correlated with circulating FFA (r ~ 0.57; P < 0.05) and milk yield (r ~ 0.63; P < 0.05). We conclude that rBST administration modifies the bovine lipidome and increases plasma ceramide concentrations in association with increased milk production in cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106480
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Ceramide
  • Dairy cow
  • Lipidome
  • Somatotropin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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