Short communication: Circulating serotonin is related to the metabolic status and lactational performance at the onset of lactation in dairy cows.

Kessler, E. C.; Wall, S K; Hernandez, L L; Bruckmaier, R. M.; Gross, J. J. (2018). Short communication: Circulating serotonin is related to the metabolic status and lactational performance at the onset of lactation in dairy cows. Journal of dairy science, 101(12), pp. 11455-11460. American Dairy Science Association 10.3168/jds.2018-14626

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Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) affects many physiological functions because it is involved in glucose and lipid metabolism, calcium homeostasis, and regulation of lactation in dairy cows. This study aimed to examine physiological differences in serum 5-HT concentrations (high vs. low) and their association with metabolic status and milk production at the onset of lactation. Twelve multiparous Holstein dairy cows were milked within 4 h of calving, and blood and milk samples were collected at the first 6 subsequent milkings after parturition and at the evening milkings on d 5, 8, 10, and 14. Cows were retrospectively divided into 2 groups (6 cows/group): low serum 5-HT (LSS) and high serum 5-HT (HSS) according to their calculated areas under the curve (AUC) for serum 5-HT for the entire experimental period (cut-off: 46,000 ng/mL × 324 h). Concentrations of 5-HT, free fatty acids (FFA), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), glucose, calcium, and IGF-1 were measured in blood. Milk was analyzed for fat, protein, lactose, and 5-HT concentrations. Milk yield was recorded at each milking and energy-corrected milk yield was calculated. Serum 5-HT concentrations were higher in HSS than in LSS [AUC (ng/mL × 324 h): 57,830 ± 4,810 vs. 25,005 ± 5,930]. The amount of energy-corrected milk was lower in HSS than in LSS. The HSS group produced less colostrum and had decreased milk yield, specifically during the first 6 milkings. Concentrations of FFA, BHB, and glucose in plasma did not differ between groups. Concentrations of IGF-1 in serum were elevated in HSS compared with LSS throughout the experiment. Total circulating calcium concentrations in serum tended to be higher in HSS than in LSS. Milk fat and protein yields were decreased in HSS compared with LSS. Milk 5-HT decreased overall during the experimental period, with LSS maintaining higher 5-HT concentrations than HSS until d 14 of lactation. In conclusion, cows with high serum 5-HT concentrations showed a reduced metabolic load at the onset of lactation, concomitantly lower milk yield, and a reduced energy output via milk.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology

UniBE Contributor:

Kessler, Evelyne Cécile; Bruckmaier, Rupert and Gross, Josef Johann


500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)




American Dairy Science Association




Josef Johann Gross

Date Deposited:

17 Dec 2018 14:51

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 14:41

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

calcium dairy cow metabolism onset of lactation serotonin




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