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The objectives of this study were to (1) compare a test for serum measurement of total Ca (tCa), Mg, and P (VetTest Chemistry Analyzer, IDEXX Laboratories Inc., Westbrook, ME) to reference methods (spectrophotometric assays on a Beckman Coulter 640e automated clinical chemistry analyzer; Beckman Coulter, Brea, CA), (2) determine the relationship between ionized Ca (iCa) and reference method tCa in the immediate postpartum period, and (3) assess the relative value of these blood Ca indices as predictors of neutrophil oxidative burst activity. Samples were collected from multiparous Holstein cows (n = 33) over the first 5 d in milk. A total of 183 samples for objective 1 and 181 samples for objective 2 were available. Neutrophil oxidative burst activity was assessed once between 2 and 5 d in milk (n = 29). Linear regression demonstrated strong relationships between serum tCa, Mg, and P concentrations measured by the VetTest compared with the reference method. Bland Altman analysis indicated that the VetTest values were higher than the reference method by 0.22 mmol/L for tCa, 0.12 mmol/L for Mg, and 0.16 mmol/L for P. Compared with hypocalcemia categorized at ≤2.0 or ≤2.125 mmol/L with the reference method tCa, thresholds for the VetTest measured tCa of ≤2.23 mmol/L (sensitivity = 87%, specificity = 89%) or ≤2.30 mmol/L (sensitivity = 86%, specificity = 96%) could be used. The relationship between whole-blood iCa and reference method serum tCa differed by sampling time point after calving. Compared with identification of hypocalcemia with serum tCa measurements from the reference method (thresholds of ≤2.0 and 2.125 mmol/L), a whole-blood iCa threshold of ≤1.17 mmol/L resulted in the highest combined sensitivities (94 and 82%) and specificities (80 and 94%) at either threshold. Ionized Ca measurements were more consistently related to outcomes of neutrophil oxidative burst activity measured in vitro. The VetTest measurements of serum tCa reliably identified hypocalcemia when thresholds were adjusted to account for the bias of the test. The variation in the relationship between iCa and reference method tCa in the days following parturition suggest that these measures cannot be used interchangeably as indicators of Ca status. The more consistent associations between iCa and in vitro measures of neutrophil function, compared with tCa, indicated that this may be a more sensitive predictor of functional outcomes associated with postpartum Ca status.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of dairy science
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