Blood immunometabolic indices and polymorphonuclear neutrophil function in peripartum dairy cows are altered by level of dietary energy prepartum

D. E. Graugnard, M. Bionaz, E. Trevisi, K. M. Moyes, J. L. Salak-Johnson, R. L. Wallace, J. K. Drackley, G. Bertoni, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cows experience some degree of negative energy balance and immunosuppression around parturition, making them vulnerable to metabolic and infectious diseases. The effect of prepartum feeding of diets to meet (control, 1.34. Mcal/kg of dry matter) or exceed (overfed, 1.62. Mcal/kg of dry matter) dietary energy requirements was evaluated during the entire dry period (∼45 d) on blood polymorphonuclear neutrophil function, blood metabolic and inflammatory indices, and milk production in Holstein cows. By design, dry matter intake in the overfed group (n = 9) exceeded energy requirements during the prepartum period (-4 to -1 wk relative to parturition), resulting in greater energy balance when compared with the control group (n = 10). Overfed cows were in more negative energy balance during wk 1 after calving than controls. No differences were observed in dry matter intake, milk yield, and milk composition between diets. Although nonesterified fatty acid concentration pre- (0.138. mEq/L) and postpartum (0.421. mEq/L) was not different between diets, blood insulin concentration was greater in overfed cows prepartum (16.7 μIU/mL) compared with controls pre- and postpartum (∼3.25 μIU/mL). Among metabolic indicators, concentrations of urea (4.63 vs. 6.38. mmol/L), creatinine (100 vs. 118 μmol/L), and triacylglycerol (4.0 vs. 8.57. mg/dL) in overfed cows were lower prepartum than controls. Glucose was greater pre- (4.24 vs. 4.00. mmol/L) and postpartum (3.49 vs. 3.30. mmol/L) compared with control cows. Among liver function indicators, the concentration of bilirubin increased by 2 to 6 fold postpartum in control and overfed cows. Phagocytosis capacity of polymorphonuclear neutrophils was lower prepartum in overfed cows (32.7% vs. 46.5%); phagocytosis in the control group remained constant postpartum (50%) but it increased at d 7 in the overfed group to levels similar to controls (48.4%). Regardless of prepartum diet, parturition was characterized by an increase in nonesterified fatty acid and liver triacylglycerol, as well as blood indices of inflammation (ceruloplasmin and haptoglobin), oxidative stress (reactive oxygen metabolites), and liver injury (glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase). Concentrations of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds vitamin A, vitamin E, and β-carotene decreased after calving. For vitamin A, the decrease was observed in overfed cows (47.3 vs. 27.5 μg/100. mL). Overall, overfeeding energy and higher energy status prepartum led to the surge of insulin and had a transient effect on metabolism postpartum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1749-1758
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012


  • Dairy cow
  • Dry period
  • Inflammation
  • Phagocytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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