Natural antibodies related to metabolic and mammary health in dairy cows

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Natural antibodies (NAb) are defined as antibodies that circulate in normal healthy individuals under the absence of deliberate antigenic stimulation. Two types of NAb are distinguished: NAb towards exogenous antigens and NAb towards autoantigens (N(A)Ab). The objectives of the current study were threefold. First, we studied the relation between metabolic health and concentrations of NAb binding keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in milk and plasma of dairy cows in early lactation. Second, we determined the presence of N(A)Ab binding transferrin, myosin and thyroglobulin in bovine milk. Third, we studied the relation between N(A)Ab in bovine milk and mammary health. For the first objective, dairy cows were either fed a control (C) (n = 8) or a diet where 2 kg of concentrates were replaced by an iso-energetic concentrate containing marine algae (ALG) from week -3 till 8 postpartum (experiment 1). Plasma and milk samples were analyzed weekly for NAb binding either KLH or LPS. Plasma was analyzed for glucose, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and ß-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA). For the second and third objective, milk samples were collected weekly from 96 dairy cows from week 2 till 9 postpartum and analyzed for milk composition and N(A)Ab binding myosin, transferrin and thyroglobulin (experiment 2). For both datasets, N(A)Ab titers are expressed as 2log values of the highest dilution giving a positive reaction. Data are expressed as means ± SEM. Repeated observations were analyzed in a mixed model. In experiment 1, no diet effect (P > 0.05) was observed on NAb binding LPS in plasma or milk, NAb binding KLH in milk was greater (P = 0.05) for cows fed the control diet. Concentration of NAb binding KLH and LPS in plasma was negatively related to plasma NEFA concentration (P <0.05). In experiment 2, NAb binding myosin (5.66 ± 0.06), thyroglobulin (4.85 ± 0.06), and transferrin (5.76 ± 0.07) were identified in milk. Clinical mastitis incidence (9%) tended to be positively related to concentration of NAb binding myosin (P = 0.06) and negatively related to Nab binding transferrin (P = 0.08). In conclusion, NAb binding KLH and LPS in plasma and milk are related to metabolic health, as indicated by plasma NEFA concentration. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the presence of N(A)Ab in bovine milk and shows trends for a relation between N(A)Ab binding auto-antigens and mastitis. Future studies should confirm these trends and shed light on the predictive value of N(A)Ab in bovine milk for mammary health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-297
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • conjugated linoleic-acid
  • early lactation
  • clinical mastitis
  • transition period
  • energy-balance
  • fc-receptor
  • periparturient period
  • immune-response
  • ketone-bodies
  • fatty liver

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