Body condition alters glutathione and nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 2 (NFE2L2)–related antioxidant network abundance in subcutaneous adipose tissue of periparturient Holstein cows

Y. Liang, A. S. Alharthi, R. Bucktrout, A. A. Elolimy, V. Lopreiato, I. Martinez-Cortés, C. Xu, C. Fernandez, E. Trevisi, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dairy cows with high body condition score (BCS) in late prepartum are more susceptible to oxidative stress (OS). Nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 2 (NFE2L2) is a major antioxidant transcription factor. We investigated the effect of precalving BCS on blood biomarkers associated with OS, inflammation, and liver function, along with mRNA and protein abundance of targets related to NFE2L2 and glutathione (GSH) metabolism in s.c. adipose tissue (SAT) of periparturient dairy cows. Twenty-two multiparous Holstein cows were retrospectively classified into a high BCS (HBCS; n = 11, BCS ≥3.5) or normal BCS (NBCS; n = 11, BCS ≤3.17) on d 28 before parturition. Cows were fed a corn silage- and wheat straw-based total mixed ration during late prepartum, and a corn silage- and alfalfa hay-based total mixed ration postpartum. Blood samples obtained at −10, 7, 15, and 30 d relative to parturition were used for analyses of biomarkers associated with inflammation, including albumin, ceruloplasmin, haptoglobin, and myeloperoxidase, as well as OS, including ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP), reactive oxygen species (ROS), and β-carotene. Adipose biopsies harvested at −15, 7, and 30 d relative to parturition were analyzed for mRNA (real-time quantitative PCR) and protein abundance (Western blotting) of targets associated with the antioxidant transcription regulator nuclear factor, NFE2L2, and GSH metabolism pathway. In addition, concentrations of GSH, ROS and malondialdehyde were measured. High BCS cows had lower prepartum dry matter intake expressed as a percentage of body weight along with greater BCS loss between −4 and 4 wk relative to parturition. Plasma concentrations of ROS and FRAP increased after parturition regardless of treatment. Compared with NBCS, HBCS cows had greater concentrations of FRAP at d 7 postpartum, which coincided with peak values in those cows. In addition, NBCS cows experienced a marked decrease in plasma ROS after d 7 postpartum, while HBCS cows maintained a constant concentration by d 30 postpartum. Overall, ROS concentrations in SAT were greater in HBCS cows. However, overall mRNA abundance of NFE2L2 was lower and cullin 3 (CUL3), a negative regulator of NFE2L2, was greater in HBCS cows. Although HBCS cows had greater overall total protein abundance of NFE2L2 in SAT, ratio of phosphorylated NFE2L2 to total NFE2L2 was lower, suggesting a decrease in the activity of this antioxidant system. Overall, mRNA abundance of the GSH metabolism-related genes glutathione reductase (GSR), glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPX1), and transaldolase 1 (TALDO1), along with protein abundance of glutathione S-transferase mu 1 (GSTM1), were greater in HBCS cows. Data suggest that HBCS cows might experience greater systemic OS after parturition, while increased abundance of mRNA and protein components of the GSH metabolism pathway in SAT might help alleviate tissue oxidant status. Data underscored the importance of antioxidant mechanisms at the tissue level. Thus, targeting these pathways in SAT during the periparturient period via nutrition might help control tissue remodeling while allowing optimal performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6439-6453
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • NFE2L2
  • adipose
  • body condition score
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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