The objective was to measure the activities of all the enzymes essential for hepatic gluconeogenesis in dairy cows with induced fatty liver. We aimed to induce severe fatty liver in ten experimental cows by overfeeding them during the dry period while seven control cows were maintained on a restricted diet. To induce a marked negative energy balance, the experimental cows were deprived of feed for 8 h immediately after parturition. In addition, the experimental cows were given a restricted amount of diet during the first 5 d of lactation. Liver samples were collected 1 week before and 1, 2 and 4 weeks after parturition. Before parturition, liver triacylglycerol concentrations did not differ between the two groups. After parturition, the experimental cows developed marked fatty liver as indicated by a higher level of triacylglycerols in the liver compared with the control cows.
Before parturition, all gluconeogenic enzymes in the liver were lower in experimental cows than in control cows. Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, pyruvate carboxylase and propionyl-CoA carboxylase were significantly lower and fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase and glucose 6-phosphatase tended to be lower in the experimental cows. The activities of two crucial enzymes for gluconeogenesis in ruminants, i.e., phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and propionyl-CoA carboxylase, remained low throughout the sampling period post partum. Activities of pyruvate carboxylase and glucose 6-phosphatase in the experimental cows post partum were upgraded to values similar to those of the control cows. The results showed that the capacity for hepatic gluconeogenesis before parturition was lower in cows with induced fatty liver than in control cows. After parturition, the low activities of crucial gluconeogenic enzymes indicated insufficient production of glucose. It is suggested that the low gluconeogenic capacity leads successively to low blood glucose concentrations, low insulin levels and high rates of mobilization of fatty acid, causing severe hepatic lipidosis.