Projects per year
The aim of this thesis was to define and test biomarkers for disease resistance in dairy cows and to determine the underlying mechanism in natural disease resistance. The health status of the cows is an important issue in dairy farming. Due to the mandatory reduction in the use of antibiotics, alternatives are required to prevent the development and expression of illness in dairy cows. The identification of biomarkers associated with such disease offers the opportunity to adapt the management of cows at risk, and in this way, prevent them from developing overt disease. Previously, natural antibodies (NAbs) in serum and milk were used as candidate biomarkers for natural disease resistance in cows. In this thesis, we continue on the occurrence and mode of action of NAbs and also focus on their source: the B-1 cells. We performed a literature study on the identification and function of B-1 cells in different species and defined the limitations in the current identification of these cells in pigs, sheep and cows (Chapter 2). B-1 cells were described in cows by using widely accepted cell surface markers CD5 and CD11b. However, in literature several findings suggest that these cell surface markers are not unique markers for B-1 identification. The similarities between mice and veterinary animals in foetal B-cell development and antibody production, implies that B-1 cells are present in cows. In chapter 3, we carefully studied new markers to selectively identify B-1 cells in cows. The combination of B-1 cell markers IgM++ and pSYK++ (indicator constitutive intracellular signalling) identifies a distinct cell population with essential B-1 characteristics such as high CD80 expression. In addition, the development of these B-1 cells in calves before colostrum intake and 3 weeks afterwards shows the same kinetics as the development of NAbs represented by IgM antibodies binding to the well-accepted NAb-antigen phosphatidylcholine (PtC). In calves up to half a year of age, it is shown that the production of such NAbs increases from birth and stabilises from 6 weeks onwards. This implies an endogenous NAb production, which follows the same age-related kinetics as can be expected from B-1 cell development. In contrast, the development of total IgM antibody levels in calves shows a bimodal distribution, which is caused by the uptake and breakdown of maternally-derived IgM and simultaneous endogenous production of specific and natural IgM. Chapter 4 describes the role of such NAbs in bovine immunity. NAbs were represented by the binding of IgM to the naïve antigen keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). Cows with high serum NAb levels were shown to have more IgM and IgG antibodies binding to common microbial structures LPS, LTA and PGN, than cows with low serum NAb levels. In addition, they also have more IgM antibodies binding to intact, fixed E. coli and S. Typhimurium bacteria. However, the killing of live E. coli and S. Typhimurium bacteria via antibody-mediated complement killing does not differ between cows with high and low NAb levels. The antibody-mediated complement killing was determined in a newly developed serum bactericidal test. Cows that performed less in the bactericidal test were more likely to develop mastitis in the future. This association was observed for the killing of E. coli and S. Typhimurium and the development of mastitis within the next one year. For S. Typhimurium the association was still present for the cases of mastitis occurring within four years after testing. Alternative biomarkers for disease resistance in cows were defined in chapter 5 by using a contemporary proteomics approach. Milk samples from high and low disease resistant cows were selected from the “Resilient Cattle” (Weerbaar Vee) biobank. Comparing the spectrum of milk proteins of high and low disease-resistant cows showed potential candidate biomarkers that were elevated in the milk of low-resistant cows. Two candidate marker proteins were validated with ELISA in a new and larger group of high- and low-resistant cows. Lactoferrin (LF) levels were significantly increased in milk of low-resistant cows. In addition, LF levels in milk were associated with clinical manifestations of lameness and had a predictive value for subsequent culling.
In conclusion, we found that also in cows NAbs are produced by B-1 cells that can be identified based on the combined expression of cell surface IgM and internal pSYK. In addition, the frequency of these B-1 cells after birth follows a similar kinetics as described before in mice. These NAbs can be more precisely identified based on their PtC binding ability and their functional activity in a bactericidal test. However, the true predictive value of B-1 cells and NAbs for the health status and immunocompetence of dairy cattle remains to be established. Proteomics turned out to be a useful approach for identifying potential new biomarkers for health and disease in milk of cows. Application and further development of their predictive capacity is dependent on the availability of robust, sensitive and quantitative assays. This project was part of the “Resilient Cattle” project providing biological samples and essential data on the health status during respective lactation periods of individual dairy cows. The impact of this research now requires translation into management tools and principles for the individual farmer impacting on the overall health status and economic performance of his herd of dairy cattle.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||6 Jul 2016|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
- dairy cows
- disease resistance
- immune response
- dendritic cells