Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

How infections can change milk composition

Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are found on the outer cell membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. When these bacteria break down, the LPS can enter the body and cause inflammation and negatively impact health. They can also disrupt the blood-milk barrier and may alter the composition of milk. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted to know whether LPS could change the metabolic profile of dairy cows as well as that of the milk they produce.

Carnitine is important physiologically as it helps move fatty acids into mitochondria where they can be used to make cellular energy. This means that carnitine may be able to reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease. It is also what makes carnitine popular as a weight loss supplement. Interestingly, the researchers found that the types of carnitine present in the blood and milk of dairy cows changed when the animals had circulating LPS. According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, carnitine is found in the highest amounts in red meat as well as the whey portion of milk.  


X Wu, S Grindler, S Danicke, J Frahm, A Kenez, K Huber. Increased plasma and milk short-chain acylcarnitine concentrations reflect systemic LPS response in mid-lactation dairy cows. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 321(3): R429-R440, 2021.

M Pooyandjoo, M Nouhi, S Shab-Bidar, K Djafarian, A Olyaeemanesh. The effect of (L-)carnitine on weight loss in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews. 17(10): 970-976, 2016.

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Carnitine

Categories: Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Livestock, Illnesses and Injuries, Reproduction and Development

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