Involvement of Skeletal Muscle Protein, Glycogen, and Fat Metabolism in the Adaptation on Early Lactation of Dairy Cows

During early lactation, high-yielding dairy cows cannot consume enough feed to meet nutrient requirements. As a consequence, animals drop into negative energy balance and mobilize body reserves including muscle protein and glycogen for milk production, direct oxidation, and hepatic gluconeogenesis. To examine which muscle metabolic processes contribute to the adaptation during early lactation, six German Holstein cows were blood sampled and muscle biopsied throughout the periparturient period. From pregnancy to lactation, the free plasma amino acid pattern imbalanced and plasma glucose decreased. Several muscle amino acids, as well as total muscle protein, fat, and glycogen, and the expression of glucose transporter-4 were reduced within the first 4 weeks of lactation. The 2-DE and MALDI-TOF-MS analysis identified 43 differentially expressed muscle protein spots throughout the periparturient period. In early lactation, expression of cytoskeletal proteins and enzymes involved in glycogen synthesis and in the TCA cycle was decreased, whereas proteins related to glycolysis, fatty acid degradation, lactate, and ATP production were increased. On the basis of these results, we propose a model in which the muscle breakdown in early lactation provides substrates for milk production by a decoupled Cori cycle favoring hepatic gluconeogenesis and by interfering with feed intake signaling.