Methyl donor supply to heat stress-challenged polymorphonuclear leukocytes from lactating Holstein cows enhances 1-carbon metabolism, immune response, and cytoprotective gene network abundance

V. Lopreiato, M. Vailati-Riboni, C. Parys, C. Fernandez, A. Minuti, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mechanisms controlling immune function of dairy cows are dysregulated during heat stress (HS). Methyl donor supply—methionine (Met) and choline (Chol)—positively modulates innate immune function, particularly antioxidant systems of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN). The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of Met and Chol supply in vitro on mRNA abundance of genes related to 1-carbon metabolism, inflammation, and immune function in short-term cultures of PMN isolated from mid-lactating Holstein cows in response to heat challenge. Blood PMN were isolated from 5 Holstein cows (153 ± 5 d postpartum, 34.63 ± 2.73 kg/d of milk production; mean ± SD). The PMN were incubated for 2 h at thermal-neutral (37°C; TN) or heat stress (42°C; HS) temperatures with 3 levels of Chol (0, 400, or 800 μg/mL) or 3 ratios of Lys:Met (Met; 3.6:1, 2.9:1, or 2.4:1). Supernatant concentrations of IL-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α were measured via bovine-specific ELISA. Fold-changes in mRNA abundance were calculated separately for Chol and Met treatments to obtain the fold-change response at 42°C (HS) relative to 37°C (TN). Data were subjected to ANOVA using PROC MIXED in SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). Orthogonal contrasts were used to determine the linear or quadratic effect of Met and Chol for mRNA fold-change and supernatant cytokine concentrations. Compared with PMN receiving 0 μg of Chol/mL, heat-stressed PMN supplemented with Chol at 400 or 800 μg/mL had greater fold-change in abundance of CBS, CSAD, GSS, GSR, and GPX1. Among genes associated with inflammation and immune function, fold-change in abundance of TLR2, TLR4, IRAK1, IL1B, and IL10 increased with 400 and 800 μg of Chol/mL compared with PMN receiving 0 μg of Chol/mL. Fold-change in abundance of SAHH decreased linearly at increasing levels of Met supply. A linear effect was detected for MPO, NFKB1, and SOD1 due to greater fold-change in abundance when Met was increased to reach Lys:Met ratios of 2.9:1 and 2.4:1. Although increasing Chol supply upregulated BAX, BCL2, and HSP70, increased Met supply only upregulated BAX. Under HS conditions, enhancing PMN supply of Chol to 400 μg/mL effectively increased fold-change in abundance of genes involved in antioxidant production (conferring cellular processes protection from free radicals and reactive oxygen species), inflammatory signaling, and innate immunity. Although similar outcomes were obtained with Met supply at Lys:Met ratios of 2.9:1 and 2.4:1, the response was less pronounced. Both Chol and Met supply enhanced the cytoprotective characteristics of PMN through upregulation of heat shock proteins. Overall, the modulatory effects detected in the present experiment highlight an opportunity to use Met and particularly Chol supplementation during thermal stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10477-10493
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • choline
  • heat stress
  • immunometabolism
  • methionine
  • polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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