Genetics and physiology of leptin in periparturient dairy cows

S.C. Liefers, R.F. Veerkamp, M.F.W. te Pas, Y. Chilliard, T. van der Lende

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51 Citations (Scopus)


In dairy cattle, the increase in milk yield has been accompanied by a more negative energy balance (EB) during early lactation and a decrease in fertility. As the hormone leptin is involved in regulation of nutritional status and reproductive function this hormone is an interesting protein to investigate during the periparturient period in dairy cattle. This study was performed to get insight into the function of leptin during the periparturient period and to perform an association study between polymorphisms in the bovine leptin gene and leptin receptor gene and fertility as well as production traits. Leptin concentrations in the periparturient cow undergo remarkable changes; leptin concentrations were high during late pregnancy and declined to a nadir at parturition. Genetic analysis of the leptin gene indicated that a combination of three polymorphisms located at a 135 bp region of the leptin promoter explained most of the variance in prepartum leptin concentrations. The two extreme genotype combinations could be used to investigate the function of leptin concentrations in pregnant cows. A polymorphism located on intron 2 of the leptin gene explained a significant part of the variation in milk yield. On the promoter region of the leptin gene an SNP was detected that was associated with first postpartum luteal activity (FPLA). This SNP could be a candidate marker for fertility in dairy cows. Another SNP on the leptin promoter was associated with energy balance and dry matter intake (DMI) where a higher dry matter intake occurred together with a higher energy balance. Two genotype combinations of the aforementioned three associated SNPs were defined which had a good milk yield together with a good energy balance and fertility. Calculations of an economical value per trait have to validate if one of these genotype combinations would be a possible candidate to be used in selection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-238
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • recombinant ovine leptin
  • messenger-rna levels
  • plasma leptin
  • luteinizing-hormone
  • adipose-tissue
  • feed-intake
  • serum concentrations
  • energy-balance
  • bovine adenohypophysis
  • circulating leptin


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