Short communication: Enhanced autophagy activity in liver tissue of dairy cows with mild fatty liver

Meng Chen, Juan J. Loor, Qian Zhai, Yusheng Liang, Hao Yu, Xiliang Du, Taiyu Shen, Zhiyuan Fang, Zhen Shi, Xinghui Wang, Yiwei Zhu, Yuxiang Song, Guowen Liu, Xiaobing Li, Zhe Wang, Xinwei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the transition period, dairy cows are challenged by increased energy demands and decreased dry matter intake, which can induce a variety of metabolic disorders, especially fatty liver. Dairy cows suffering from mild or moderate fatty liver in this period show no distinct clinical symptoms, indicating the occurrence of adaptive processes. The process of autophagy (an adaptive response) leads to degradation of intracellular components to generate energy and maintains cellular homeostasis during negative nutrient status. Whether autophagy is involved in metabolic adaptations of the pathological course of mild fatty liver is unclear. Thus, the aim of this study was to determine hepatic autophagy status in dairy cows with mild fatty liver. Liver samples were collected from healthy cows (n = 15), defined as having hepatic triglyceride (TG) content <1% on a wet weight basis, and cows with mild fatty liver (n = 15), defined as having hepatic TG content between 1 and 5%. The abundance of the ubiquitinated proteins, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (MAP1LC3, also called LC3-II) and sequestosome-1 (SQSTM1, also called p62) was lower, whereas the mRNA abundance of MAP1LC3 and SQSTM1 was greater in cows with mild fatty liver. The hepatic mRNA abundance of autophagy-related (ATG) genes ATG5 and ATG7 was greater in response to fatty liver. However, the protein abundance of ATG5 and ATG7 did not differ between healthy and mild fatty liver cows. Together, these data indicate that the formation and degradation of autophagosomes is enhanced in the liver of cows with mild fatty liver. Besides, these results are conducive to define the adaptation mechanisms of dairy cows during the transition period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3628-3635
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • MAP1LC3 (LC3-II)
  • autophagy
  • metabolic adaptation
  • mild fatty liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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