Effects of diets differing in dietary cation-anion difference and calcium concentration on calcium homeostasis in neutered male sheep
Feeding low dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) diets is one strategy to prevent milk fever in cows. The mechanism of action, as well as whether the calcium (Ca) supply of such diets combined with this feeding regimen should meet the requirements, is still unclear. Small ruminants are commonly used as models for cows. The goal of the present study was to demonstrate basic effects of DCAD against a background of different Ca supplies in a sheep model. Twenty-three castrated male East Friesian milk sheep, aged 11 to 12 mo, were randomly assigned to 4 different feeding groups. The ration of each group was either high (highDCAD) or low in DCAD (lowDCAD) combined with adequate (nCa) or restricted Ca supply (lowCa). At baseline, serum and urine were collected from all sheep and a peripheral quantitative computed tomography of the left metatarsus was performed. After a 14-d adaptation period to the different diets, the experiment started (d 0). Urine, feces, and serum were collected on d 0, 4, 7, 14, and 22, and peripheral quantitative computed tomography was performed on d 0 and 22. On d 22, the sheep were killed and sampled for functional studies. LowDCAD was significantly associated with lower urine pH, higher urinary Ca excretion, higher ionized Ca in blood, and higher serum Ca concentrations. Blood pH and bone parameters did not differ significantly between groups. It is unclear from which compartment the high amounts of Ca excreted with urine in the lowDCAD groups originated. Interestingly, lowDCAD resulted in higher renal mRNA abundance of parathyroid hormone receptor but unaffected mRNA abundance of Ca transporters. As neither renal abundance of these transporters nor Ca excretion were influenced by dietary Ca supply, our results support the hypothesis that increased urinary Ca observed with low DCAD diets represents a loss rather than an excretion of surplus Ca.