Effects of adding valerate, caproate, and heptanoate to ruminal buffers on splanchnic metabolism in steers under washed-rumen conditions

N. B. Kristensen, D. L. Harmon

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10 Scopus citations


Four steers fitted with a ruminal cannula and chronic indwelling catheters in the mesenteric artery, mesenteric vein, hepatic portal vein, hepatic vein, and the right ruminal vein were used to study VFA absorption from bicarbonate buffers incubated in the washed reticulorumen, and metabolism by splanchnic tissues. Portal and hepatic vein blood flows were determined by infusion of p-aminohippurate into the mesenteric vein. The steers were subjected to four experimental treatments in a Latin square design. The treatments were Control (ruminal bicarbonate buffer with [mmol/ kg]: acetate = 72; propionate = 30; isobutyrate = 2.1; butyrate = 12; valerate = 1.2; caproate = 0; and heptanoate = 0); Val (same as control except for valerate = 8 mmol/kg); Cap (same as control except for caproate = 3.5 mmol/kg); and Hep (same as control except for heptanoate = 3 mmol/kg). All buffers were incubated for 90 min in the rumen, and ruminal VFA absorption rates were maintained by continuous intraruminal infusion of VFA. The arterial concentrations of valerate and heptanoate showed a small increase (≤1 μmol/L; P < 0.05) with inclusion of the respective acid in the ruminal buffer, but no change (P = 0.57) in arterial concentration of caproate was detected. Valerate increased (P < 0.05) the net portal flux of butyrate and valerate, as well as the net splanchnic flux of propionate, butyrate, and valerate. With Cap and Hep, the net portal flux of caproate and heptanoate accounted for 54 and 45% of ruminal disappearance rates, respectively, indicating that these acids were extensively metabolized by the ruminal epithelium. Caproate was ketogenic both in the ruminal epithelium and in the liver, and Cap increased (P < 0.05) the arterial concentration, ruminal vein minus arterial concentration difference, net hepatic flux, and net splanchnic flux of 3-hydroxybutyrate. The net hepatic flux of glucose decreased (P = 0.02) with Cap and Hep compared with Control and Val; however, no effect (P = 0.14) on the net splanchnic flux of glucose could be detected. We conclude that the strong biological activity of valerate, caproate, and heptanoate warrant increased emphasis on monitoring their ruminal presence and their potential systemic effects on ruminant metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1899-1907
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2005


  • Cattle
  • Hexanoic Acid
  • Metabolism
  • Short-Chain Fatty Acids
  • Valeric Acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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