Association of concentrations of beta-carotene in plasma on pregnancy per artificial insemination and pregnancy loss in lactating Holstein cows. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of this study was to determine the association of beta-carotene concentration in plasma at the moment of artificial insemination (AI) on pregnancy/AI in lactating Holstein cows. A total of 399 events from 364 lactating Holstein cows were enrolled in the trial (143 primiparous and 221 multiparous). All cows were assigned to a timed AI protocol based on estradiol and progesterone. Blood samples were collected at the moment of AI and at 24 and 31d post-AI (samples on 31 d post-AI were collected only from cows that were diagnosed pregnant). The BCS were recorded at the time of AI. Plasma beta-carotene was quantified from blood samples taken at the time of AI using a single step denaturation and extraction into a solvent, followed by measurement using a portable spectrophotometer. Pregnancy-associated glycoproteins (PAG) were analyzed in blood samples taken at 24 and 31 d post-AI of pregnant cows. Milk production was collected for the entire experimental period. Pregnancy diagnosis was performed by ultrasound 31 and 60 d post-AI. Data was analyzed using the MIXED and GLIMMIX procedures of SAS. Cows classified as thin (<2.75) tended to have lower concentration of beta-carotene at AI when compared with those classified as Moderate (≥3.00; 3.8 ± 0.1 vs. 4.3 ± 0.1 μg/mL; P = 0.09). Concentration of beta-carotene were greater in multiparous compared with primiparous (P < 0.01). There was no correlation between concentration of beta-carotene and milk production (r = 0.04; P = 0.10). When plasma beta-carotene was categorized in quartiles, cows in the 1st quartile had lower pregnancy/AI and higher pregnancy losses when compared with cows that were in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quartile (pregnancy/AI = 19.2 ± 4.5, 33.7 ± 4.7, 36.9 ± 5.0 and 39.8 ± 5.4%, respectively; P = 0.05; pregnancy losses = 41.9 ± 4.8, 20.4 ± 3.7, 22.1 ± 4.1, and 15.7 ± 4.2%, respectively; P < 0.05). There was no association between concentrations of beta-carotene at AI and PAG at 24 d post-AI (P = 0.60). Cows with greater concentrations of beta-carotene at AI were more likely to have greater concentrations of PAG at 31 d post-AI (P < 0.01). In conclusion, the concentration of beta-carotene at AI was affected by BCS and parity. Cows with higher concentrations of plasma beta-carotene at AI had greater pregnancy/AI, lower pregnancy losses and greater concentrations of PAG at d 31 post-AI, suggesting it may be associated with placental function in lactating dairy cows.

published proceedings

  • Theriogenology

author list (cited authors)

  • Madureira, A., Pohler, K. G., Guida, T. G., Wagner, S. E., Cerri, R., & Vasconcelos, J.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Madureira, AML||Pohler, KG||Guida, TG||Wagner, SE||Cerri, RLA||Vasconcelos, JLM

publication date

  • January 2020