Corium tissue expression of genes associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and keratin formation in relation to lameness in dairy cows

J. S. Osorio, B. C. Fraser, D. E. Graugnard, S. S. Singh, J. K. Drackley, E. F. Garrett, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives were to (1) determine the feasibility of performing hoof biopsies without impairing locomotion; (2) evaluate the feasibility of using biopsied tissue for quantitative PCR; and (3) compare relative gene expression among claws for several target genes. Biopsies were performed on 6 Holstein cows, yielding 4 tissue specimens per cow from front leg, right limb, and medial claw (claw position 3); rear leg, left limb, and lateral claw (claw position 5); and rear leg, right limb, medial claw (claw position 7). Cows were monitored for lameness daily for 7 d post-biopsy and then weekly for 8 wk. Histopathological analysis confirmed that tissue collected was from between the stratum corneum and dermis. Biopsied tissue was used for RNA extraction, including evaluation of yield and purity. The profile by claw position of 19 genes with key functions in cell differentiation, proliferation, inflammation, and keratin formation was assessed via quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. Other than transient disturbances in locomotion score in some cows during 2 to 4 d post-biopsy, no signs of pain, locomotion impairment, or clinical lameness were observed post-biopsy. Total RNA yields averaged 259.7 ± 100, 447.8 ± 288, and 496.4 ± 118. μg/mg of tissue for claw positions 3, 5, and 7, respectively. The biopsy procedure was successful for obtaining corium for gene expression. Among 5 keratin proteins analyzed, only keratin 5 was expressed. Transcripts related to inflammation and oxidative stress (STAT3, MYD88, SOD2, and TLR4) were among the more abundant in corium tissue, but expression did not differ between claws. Biotinidase (BTD) expression was greater in claw 3 versus claw 5, whereas the ligand-activated nuclear receptor retinoic acid receptor-α (RXRA) was greater in claws 3 + 5 compared with claw 7. Overall, results from this pilot study revealed modest differences at the transcriptome level, suggesting that biotin availability and lipid metabolism differ between claw positions, whereas inflammation and oxidative stress seem to play an important role across claws. More comprehensive studies of the hoof transcriptome are required to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that link environmental and dietary factors to development of lameness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6388-6396
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Biopsy
  • Gene expression
  • Laminitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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