Triennial lactation symposium: Nutrigenomics in dairy cows: Nutrients, transcription factors, and techniques

M. Bionaz, J. Osorio, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nutrigenomics in dairy cows is a relatively new area of research. It is defined as the study of the genomewide influences of nutrition altering the expression of genes. Dietary compounds affect gene expression directly or indirectly via interactions with transcription factors. Among those, the most relevant for nutrigenomics are ligand-dependent nuclear receptors, especially peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) and liver X receptor. Among other transcription factors, a prominent nutrigenomic role is played by the sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1). Data from studies on dairy cows using gene expression and gene reporters among the main molecular methods used to study nutrigenomics in dairy cows are indicative of a network of multiple transcription factors at play in controlling the nutrigenomic responses. Fatty acids, AA, and level of feed and energy intake have the strongest nutrigenomic potential. The effect of t10,c12 CLA on depressing milk fat synthesis via inhibition of SREBP1 was among the first and likely the best-known nutrigenomic example in dairy cows. Although long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) are clearly the most potent, a nutrigenomic role for short-chain fatty acids is emerging. Available data indicate that saturated compared with unsaturated LCFA have a more potent nutrigenomic effect in vitro, likely through PPAR. In vivo, the effect of saturated LCFA is more modest, with contrasting effects among tissues. Nutrigenomic effects of AA are emerging, particularly for the regulation of milk protein synthesis–associated genes. The level of energy in the diet has a strong and broad nutrigenomic effect and appears to “prime” tissue metabolism, particularly liver. We are at the frontier of the nutrigenomics era in ruminants and initial data strongly indicate that this scientific branch (and spinoffs such as nutriepigenomics) can play a critical role in future strategies to better feed dairy cattle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5531-5553
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 18 2015


  • Dairy cow
  • Long-chain fatty acids
  • Nutrigenomics
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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