Effects of precalving body condition and prepartum feeding level on gene expression in circulating neutrophils

M. A. Crookenden, C. G. Walker, A. Heiser, A. Murray, V. S.R. Dukkipati, J. K. Kay, S. Meier, K. M. Moyes, M. D. Mitchell, J. J. Loor, J. R. Roche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extensive metabolic, physiological, and immunological changes are associated with calving and the onset of lactation. As a result, cows transitioning between pregnancy and lactation are at a greater risk of metabolic and infectious diseases. The ability of neutrophils to mount an effective immune response to an infection is critical for its resolution, and increasing evidence indicates that precalving nutrition affects postpartum neutrophil function. The objectives of the current study were to investigate the effect of 2 precalving body condition scores (BCS; 4 vs. 5 on a 10-point scale) and 2 levels of feeding (75 vs. 125% of estimated maintenance requirements) on gene expression in circulating neutrophils. We isolated RNA from the neutrophils of cows (n = 45) at 5 time points over the transition period: precalving (−1 wk), day of calving (d 0), and postcalving at wk 1, 2, and 4. Quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR with custom-designed primer pairs and Roche Universal Probe Library (Roche, Basel, Switzerland) chemistry, combined with microfluidics integrated fluidic circuit chips (96.96 dynamic array), were used to quantify the expression of 78 genes involved in neutrophil function and 18 endogenous control genes. Statistical significance between time points was determined using repeated measures ANOVA with Tukey-Kramer multiple-testing correction to determine treatment effects among weeks. Precalving BCS altered the inflammatory state of neutrophils, with significant increases in overall gene expression of antimicrobial peptides (BNBD4 and DEFB10) and the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL10, and significantly decreased expression of proinflammatory cytokine IL23A in thinner cows (BCS 4) compared with cows calving at BCS 5. Feeding level had a time-dependent effect on gene expression; for example, increased expression of genes involved in leukotriene synthesis (PLA2G4A and ALOX5AP) occurred only at 1 wk postcalving in cows overfed (125% of requirements) precalving compared with those offered 75% of maintenance requirements. Results indicate that precalving body condition and changes in prepartum energy lead to altered gene expression of circulating neutrophils, highlighting the importance of transition cow nutrition for peripartum health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2310-2322
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • dairy cow
  • nutrition
  • peripartum
  • polymorphonuclear leukocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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