Elevated thyroid hormones caused by high concentrate diets participate in hepatic metabolic disorders in dairy cows

  • Chen, Qu (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Wu, Chen (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Yao, Zhihao (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Cai, Liuping (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Ni, Yingdong (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Mao, Shengyong (Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Microbiology, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Nutrition and Animal Health, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University)
  • Received : 2021.09.02
  • Accepted : 2021.12.17
  • Published : 2022.08.01


Objective: High concentrate diets are widely used to satisfy high-yielding dairy cows; however, long-term feeding of high concentrate diets can cause subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA). The endocrine disturbance is one of the important reasons for metabolic disorders caused by SARA. However, there is no current report about thyroid hormones involved in liver metabolic disorders induced by a high concentrate diet. Methods: In this study, 12 mid-lactating dairy cows were randomly assigned to HC (high concentrate) group (60% concentrate of dry matter, n = 6) and LC (low concentrate) group (40% concentrate of dry matter, n = 6). All cows were slaughtered on the 21st day, and the samples of blood and liver were collected to analyze the blood biochemistry, histological changes, thyroid hormones, and the expression of genes and proteins. Results: Compared with LC group, HC group showed decreased serum triglyceride, free fatty acid, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, increased hepatic glycogen, and glucose. For glucose metabolism, the gene and protein expression of glucose-6-phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 1 in the liver were significantly up-regulated in HC group. For lipid metabolism, the expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1, long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase 1, and fatty acid synthase in the liver was decreased in HC group, whereas carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1α and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor α were increased. Serum triiodothyronine, thyroxin, free triiodothyronine (FT3), and hepatic FT3 increased in HC group, accompanied by increased expression of thyroid hormone receptor (THR) in the liver. Conclusion: Taken together, thyroid hormones may increase hepatic gluconeogenesis, β-oxidation and reduce fatty acid synthesis through the THR pathway to participate in the metabolic disorders caused by a high concentrate diet.



This study is supported with Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (JCQY201905), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.32172810), and National Key Research and Development Project (2016YFD0501203).


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