Leukocyte populations and mRNA expression of inflammatory factors in quarter milk fractions at different somatic cell score levels in dairy cows

Sarikaya, H; Schlamberger, G; Meyer, H H D; Bruckmaier, R M (2006). Leukocyte populations and mRNA expression of inflammatory factors in quarter milk fractions at different somatic cell score levels in dairy cows. Journal of dairy science, 89(7), pp. 2479-86. Savoy, Ill.: American Dairy Science Association

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The effect of somatic cell count (SCC) and milk fraction on milk composition, distribution of cell populations, and mRNA expression of various inflammatory parameters was studied. Therefore, quarter milk samples were defined as cisternal (C), first 400 g of alveolar (A1), and remaining alveolar milk (A2) during the course of milking. Quarters were assigned to 4 groups according to their total SCC: 1) <12 x 10(3)/mL, 2) 12 to 100 x 10(3)/mL, 3) 100 to 350 x 10(3)/mL, and 4) >350 x 10(3)/mL. Milk constituents of interest were SCC, fat, protein, lactose sodium, and chloride ions as well as electrical conductivity. Cell populations were classified into lymphocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils (PMN). The mRNA expression of the inflammatory factors tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1beta, cyclooxygenase-2, lactoferrin, and lysozyme was measured via real-time, quantitative reverse transcription PCR. Somatic cell count decreased from highest levels in C to lowest levels in A1 and increased thereafter to A2 in all groups. Fat content increased from C to A2 and with increasing SCC level. Lactose decreased with increasing SCC level but remained unchanged during milking. Concentrations of sodium and chloride, and electrical conductivity increased with increasing SCC but were higher in C than in A1 and A2. Protein was not affected by milk fraction or SCC level. The distribution of leukocytes was dramatically influenced by milk fraction and SCC. Lymphocytes were the dominating cell population in group 1, but the proportion of lymphocytes was low in groups 2, 3, and 4. Macrophage proportion was highest in group 2 and decreased in groups 3 and 4, whereas that of PMN increased from group 2 to 4. The content of macrophages decreased during milking in all SCC groups whereas that of PMN increased. The proportion of lymphocytes was not affected by milk fraction. The mRNA expression of all inflammatory factors showed an increase with increasing SCC but minor changes occurred during milking. In conclusion, milk fraction and SCC level have a crucial influence on the distribution of leukocyte populations and several milk constituents. The surprisingly high content of lymphocytes and concomitantly low mRNA expression of inflammatory factors in quarters with SCC <12 x 10(3)/mL indicates a different and possibly reduced readiness of the immune system to respond to invading pathogens.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology

UniBE Contributor:

Bruckmaier, Rupert




American Dairy Science Association




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:45

Last Modified:

04 May 2014 23:13

PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:



https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/18738 (FactScience: 976)

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