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Short communication: Assessment of biomarkers of inflammation in the vaginal discharge of postpartum dairy cows diagnosed with clinical metritis

Barragan, A.A., Lakritz, J., Carman, M.K., Bas, S., Hovingh, E., Schuenemann, G.M.
Journal of dairy science 2019 v.102 no.8 pp. 7469-7475
biomarkers, blood serum, dairy cows, endometritis, endometrium, farms, financial economics, haptoglobins, inflammation, metalloproteinases, observational studies, smell, Pennsylvania
Clinical metritis, characterized by the presence of an enlarged uterus and abnormal red-brownish foul-smelling vaginal discharge (VD), is a prevalent condition that causes important economic losses to dairy operations. The accurate diagnosis and treatment of this disease can help decrease its negative effects on the well-being and performance of dairy cows. The objectives of this study were to assess (1) the concentration of haptoglobin (Hp) and neutrophil-derived haptoglobin–matrix metalloproteinase 9 (Hp-MMP 9) in the VD of postpartum cows; and (2) the correlation between Hp and Hp-MMP 9 concentrations in serum and VD. Fifty-three dairy cows from 4 farms in central Pennsylvania were enrolled in this observational study.. Postpartum cows (7 ± 3 DIM) were screened using a Metricheck device to assess VD score (VDS): 1, clear fluid (n = 4); 2, < 50% white purulent fluid (n = 14); 3, > 50% white purulent fluid (n = 8); 4, red-brownish watery fluid without fetid smell (n = 22); and 5, fetid red-brownish watery fluid (n = 5). Blood and VD samples were collected for assessment of Hp and Hp-MMP 9 concentrations. Cows with a VDS of 4 or 5 (VDS4/5) had higher serum Hp concentrations than cows with a VDS of 1, 2, or 3 (VDS1/3; 93 ± 187 µg/mL vs. 59 ± 106 µg/mL, respectively). Similarly, cows with VDS4/5 had higher VD Hp concentrations than cows with VDS1/3 (73 ± 56 µg/mL vs. 17 ± 16 µg/mL, respectively). We found a significant correlation (0.37) between Hp levels in serum and in VD. We found no difference in serum Hp-MMP 9 between VDS4/5 and VDS1/3 cows. The VD concentrations of Hp-MMP 9 were higher in VDS4/5 cows than in VDS1/3 cows (7,629 ± 9,847 ng/mL vs. 1,567 ± 2,165 ng/mL, respectively). The correlation between Hp-MMP 9 in serum and VD was 0.22; nevertheless, it was not statistically significant. Interestingly, Hp and Hp-MMP 9 concentrations were higher in VD samples than in serum, regardless of VDS. Results from this study suggest that inflammatory biomarkers may be increased in cows with a VDS of 4 or 5. Further research should be aimed at elucidating the processes involved in inflammatory biomarker production and transportation in the uterus, as well as the effect of these biomarkers on endometrial cells.