Main content area

Heat stress abatement during the dry period influences metabolic gene expression and improves immune status in the transition period of dairy cows

do Amaral, B.C., Connor, E.E., Tao, S., Hayen, M.J., Bubolz, J.W., Dahl, G.E.
Journal of dairy science 2011 v.94 no.1 pp. 86
heat stress, dry period, gene expression, immunity, dairy cows, liver, Holstein, body temperature, breathing, free stalls, cooling systems, milk yield, neutrophils, oxidation, prolactin, prepartum period, perinatal period, messenger RNA, genes, phagocytosis, humoral immunity, immunoglobulin G
Heat stress (HT) and photoperiod affect milk production and immune status of dairy cows. The objective was to evaluate the effects of HT abatement prepartum under controlled photoperiod on hepatic metabolic gene expression and cellular immune function of periparturient Holstein cows (n=21). Cows were dried off 46 d before expected calving date and assigned to treatments by mature equivalent milk production. The treatments were 1) HT and 2) cooling (CL), both imposed during a photoperiod of 14L:10D. Rectal temperature was measured twice daily, whereas respiration rate was measured 3 times/wk at 1500h during the entire dry period. After calving, cows were housed in a freestall barn with cooling, and milk yield was recorded daily up to 140 d in milk. Liver samples were taken at dry off, −20, 2, and 20 d relative to calving by biopsy. Under a similar schedule, neutrophil function was determined in blood of cows on HT (n=12) and CL (n=9). Blood samples were taken on −46, −32, −18, 0, 14, 28, and 42 d relative to calving for measurement of metabolites and were collected twice daily from −7 to 2 d relative to calving for prolactin (PRL) analysis. The HT cows had greater concentrations of PRL at 0 d relative to calving (150 vs. 93; SEM=11 ng/mL) and had higher afternoon rectal temperatures (39.4 vs. 39.0; SEM=0.04°C) and elevated respiration rates (78 vs. 56; SEM=2 breaths/min) during the prepartum period compared with CL cows. Relative to HT cows, CL cows had greater hepatic expression of PRL-R, SOCS-3, and CAV-1 mRNA. Neutrophil oxidative burst was greater in CL cows relative to HT cows at 2 d (61 vs. 42; SEM=6%) and at 20 d (62 vs. 49; SEM=5%) relative to calving, and phagocytosis was greater in CL cows at 20 d (47 vs. 33; SEM=4%) relative to calving compared with HT cows. Humoral response, as measured by IgG secretion against ovalbumin challenge, was greater for CL cows at −32 d (0.44 vs. 0.33; SEM=0.05 OD) and −21 d (0.60 vs. 0.50±0.04 OD) relative to calving compared with HT cows. These results suggest that HT abatement during the dry period improved innate and acquired immune status as measured by neutrophil function and immunoglobulin secretion against ovalbumin challenge, and altered hepatic gene expression related to PRL signaling in the periparturient period or subsequent lactation.