Short communication: Circulating fatty acylcarnitines are elevated in overweight periparturient dairy cows in association with sphingolipid biomarkers of insulin resistance
Rico, J.E., Y. Zang, N. Haughey, A. Rius, and J. W. McFadden.  2018.  Journal of Dairy Science, 101, 812 - 819.

Defects in mitochondrial fatty acid processing are associated with the development of fatty liver disease, inflammation, and insulin resistance in overweight nonruminants. Surplus fatty acids (FA) and defects in FA oxidation favor the accumulation of fatty acylcarnitines (FAC) and the sphingolipid ceramide. Moreover, elevated circulating FAC and ceramide concentrations are inversely related to insulin action. Because we have previously demonstrated that plasma ceramide levels increase during the transition from gestation to lactation, our aim was to determine whether changes in plasma medium- and long-chain FAC levels are related to circulating FA and sphingolipids in peripartal dairy cows. We hypothesized that plasma FAC levels would be higher in overweight cows experiencing increased lipolysis, and that FAC levels would be positively associated with elevations in plasma ceramides. Twenty-one multiparous Holstein cows were grouped according to body condition score (BCS) at d −30 prepartum as lean (BCS <3.0; n = 10) or overweight (BCS >4.0; n = 11). Blood was collected at d −30, −15, −7, and 4, relative to parturition. Circulating FAC and ceramide levels were determined using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. To investigate the potential contributions of sphingomyelin (SM) hydrolysis to ceramide accrual, we also determined plasma SM levels during the peripartum period. Data were analyzed under a mixed model with the fixed effects of adiposity and time, and the random effect of cow. Relative to lean cows, overweight cows had elevated FAC during the transition from gestation to lactation. Circulating FAC levels were positively associated with FA, ceramide, and dihydro-SM levels. Although circulating FAC levels increased in all cows during the peripartum, enhanced prepartum adiposity contributed to a greater rise in plasma FA and FAC. Our results support on-going efforts to determine whether altered mitochondrial FA processing promotes the accumulation of the insulin resistance biomarker ceramide in blood and liver.