Short communication: Proteins from circulating exosomes represent metabolic state in transition dairy cows

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biomarkers that identify prepathological disease could enhance preventive management, improve animal health and productivity, and reduce costs. Circulating extracellular vesicles, particularly exosomes, are considered to be long-distance, intercellular communication systems in human medicine. Exosomes provide tissue-specific messages of functional state and can alter the cellular activity of recipient tissues through their protein and microRNA content. We hypothesized that exosomes circulating in the blood of cows during early lactation would contain proteins representative of the metabolic state of important tissues, such as liver, which play integral roles in regulating the physiology of cows postpartum. From a total of 150 cows of known metabolic phenotype, 10 cows were selected with high (n = 5; high risk) and low (n = 5; low risk) concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids, β-hydroxybutyrate, and liver triacylglycerol during wk 1 and 2 after calving. Exosomes were extracted from blood on the day of calving (d 0) and postcalving at wk 1 and wk 4, and their protein composition was determined by mass spectroscopy. Extracellular vesicle protein concentration and the number of exosome vesicles were not affected by risk category; however, the exosome protein cargo differed between the groups, with proteins at each time point identified as being unique to the high- and low-risk groups. The proteins α-2 macroglobulin, fibrinogen, and oncoprotein-induced transcript 3 were unique to the high-risk cows on d 0 and have been associated with metabolic syndrome and liver function in humans. Their presence may indicate a more severe inflammatory state and a greater degree of liver dysfunction in the high-risk cows than in the low-risk cows, consistent with the high-risk cows’ greater plasma β-hydroxybutyrate and liver triacylglycerol concentrations. The commonly shared proteins and those unique to the low-risk category indicate a role for exosomes in immune function. The data provide preliminary evidence of a potential role for exosomes in the immune function in transition dairy cows and exosomal protein cargo as biomarkers of metabolic state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7661-7668
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • exosome
  • lactation extracellular vesicle
  • metabolic state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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