Leptin is a 16-kDa protein synthesized by adipose tissue and is involved in regulation of feed intake, energy balance, fertility, and immune functions. Since evidence of a genetic correlation between start of luteal activity and energy balance, milk yield, and live weights is present, we investigated the association of genetic differences in the bovine leptin gene with these traits. Between 1990 and 1997, a total of 613 Holstein-Friesian heifers of two genetic groups with known pedigree were followed from parturition until d 105 of lactation. During the first 15 wk of lactation live weight, feed intake, and milk yield were measured for 565 cows. The start of luteal activity was set at the first day with a progesterone concentration higher than 3 ng/ml. In addition to the interval between calving and start of luteal activity, analyses were performed for average milk yield, percentage fat, protein, and lactose in milk, dry matter intake, feed intake, energy balance, and live weight over the first 15 wk of lactation. All 613 cows were genotyped for two restricted fragment length polymorphisms and for the BM1500 microsatellite, all located at the leptin gene locus. Significances of the genotype effects were estimated using the approximated F-statistic provided by ASREML. Fixed effects were year-season, genetic group, and a quadratic polynomial for age at calving. Animal was fitted as a random effect including the additive relationship between animals to account for background genes. Firstly, each genotype effect was fitted in turn, and secondly the other restriction fragment length polymorphisms were fitted as a cofactor to take into account effects of linkage disequilibrium. Thirdly, sire x genotype interaction was investigated. Heifers with the RFLP1-AB genotype produce 1.32 kg/d more milk and consume 0.73 kg/d more food compared with the RFLP1-AA genotype. No effects were found for start of luteal activity. When linkage disequilibrium with the other markers was taken into account and DMI was included as fixed effect in the model a 0.96 kg/d higher milk yield was still found. Assuming that no pleiotropic effects on traits such as immunity and milk production in later lactations exist, future breeding programs favoring the RFLP1 B-allele can yield a higher milk production without negatively affecting energy balance and fertility. The prospects are good because in this study the frequency of the RFLP1 AB- and BB-genotypes were only 18.5 and 0.2%, respectively.
Liefers, S. C., te Pas, M. F. W., Veerkamp, R. F., & van der Lende, T. (2002). Associations between leptin Gene polymorphisms and production. Journal of Dairy Science, 85, 1633-1638. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(02)74235-5