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Negative energy balance alters global gene expression and immune responses in the uterus of postpartum dairy cows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • D Claire Wathes
  • Zhangrui Cheng
  • Waliul Chowdhury
  • Mark A Fenwick
  • Richard Fitzpatrick
  • Dermot G Morris
  • Joe Patton
  • John J Murphy

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2009


Most dairy cows suffer uterine microbial contamination postpartum. Persistent endometritis often develops, associated with reduced fertility. We used a model of differential feeding and milking regimes to produce cows in differing negative energy balance status in early lactation (mild or severe, MNEB or SNEB). Blood hematology was assessed preslaughter at 2 wk postpartum. RNA expression in endometrial samples was compared using bovine Affymetrix arrays. Data were mapped using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Circulating concentrations of IGF-I remained lower in the SNEB group, whereas blood nonesterified fatty acid and beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations were raised. White blood cell count and lymphocyte number were reduced in SNEB cows. Array analysis of endometrial samples identified 274 differentially expressed probes representing 197 recognized genes between the energy balance groups. The main canonical pathways affected related to immunological and inflammatory disease and connective tissue disorders. Inflammatory response genes with major upregulation in SNEB cows included matrix metalloproteinases, chemokines, cytokines, and calgranulins. Expression of several interferon-inducible genes including ISG20, IFIH1, MX1, and MX2 were also significantly increased in the SNEB cows. These results provide evidence that cows in SNEB were still undergoing an active uterine inflammatory response 2 wk postpartum, whereas MNEB cows had more fully recovered from their energy deficit, with their endometrium reaching a more advanced stage of repair. SNEB may therefore prevent cows from mounting an effective immune response to the microbial challenge experienced after calving, prolonging the time required for uterine recovery and compromising subsequent fertility.

    Research areas

  • Animals, Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides, Cattle, Dairying, Dinoprost, Endometrium, Energy Metabolism, Female, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Gene Regulatory Networks, Hormones, Insulin-Like Growth Factor I, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Postpartum Period, Serum Amyloid A Protein, Uterus

ID: 13092150