Isotopic turnover of carbon and nitrogen in bovine blood fractions and inner organs

Bahar, Bojlul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7389-3650, Harrison, Sabine M., Moloney, Aidan P., Monahan, Frank J. and Schmidt, Olaf (2014) Isotopic turnover of carbon and nitrogen in bovine blood fractions and inner organs. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 28 (9). pp. 1011-1018. ISSN 0951-4198

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Isotope ratio analysis of bovine tissues is a tool for inferring aspects of the dietary history of cattle. The objective of this experiment was to quantify the carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) isotopic turnover in blood (serum and residue) and inner organs (liver, kidney, heart and brain) of beef cattle.

Growing beef cattle (n = 70 in total) were either switched from a control diet containing barley and urea to an experimental diet containing maize and 15N-enriched urea, for various intervals prior to slaughter or maintained on the control diet for 168 days pre-slaughter. Samples of blood, liver, kidney, heart and brain were collected at 0, 14, 28, 56, 112 and 168 days and analysed using Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry.

After 168 days, C- and N-isotopic equilibrium was reached in the blood serum, liver and kidney, approached in the heart and brain, but not reached in the non-serum component of blood. The estimated C and N half-lives were 16.5 and 20.7 days for liver, 19.2 and 25.5 days for kidney, 29.2 and 35.6 days for blood serum, 37.6 and 49.9 days for heart, 53.3 and 52.2 days for brain and 113.3 and 115.0 days for the non-serum blood residue, respectively. Modelling the C and N turnover in the different tissue combinations revealed that a combined analysis of liver and heart as well as brain and kidney can provide the most accurate estimation of the timing of the diet switch.

Based on the difference in turnover rates, bovine soft tissues can provide isotopic information on short- and long-term dietary changes, which in turn may be linked to the geographic or production origin of beef cattle. This study also provides basic biological data on organ C and N turnover in a large herbivorous mammal.

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