Somatic cell count-based selection reduces susceptibility to energy shortage during early lactation in a sheep model.

TitleSomatic cell count-based selection reduces susceptibility to energy shortage during early lactation in a sheep model.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBouvier-Muller, J, Allain, C, Enjalbert, F, Farizon, Y, Portes, D, Foucras, G, Rupp, R
JournalJ Dairy Sci
Date Published2018 Mar

During the transition from late gestation to early lactation ruminants experience a negative energy balance (NEB), which is considered to increase susceptibility to mammary infections. Our previous study in 2 divergent lines of sheep selected for high and low somatic cell score (SCS) suggested an association between the response to NEB and genetic susceptibility to mastitis. Forty-eight early-lactation primiparous dairy ewes from the 2 SCS genetic lines were allocated to 2 homogeneous subgroups-an NEB group, which was energy restricted and received 60% of the energy requirements for 15 d, and a control-fed group-to obtain 4 balanced groups of 12 ewes: high-SCS positive energy balance, low-SCS positive energy balance, high-SCS NEB, and low-SCS NEB. High-SCS ewes showed greater weight loss and increased plasmatic concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate and nonesterified fatty acids than low-SCS ewes when confronted with an induced NEB. The aim of this study was to further characterize this interaction by combining transcriptomic and phenotypic data with a generalized partial least squares discriminant analysis using mixOmics package framework. A preliminary analysis using 3 blocks of phenotypes (fatty acids, weight and production, blood metabolites) revealed a high correlation between fat-to-protein ratio, β-hydroxybutyrate, and nonesterified fatty acids concentrations with milk long-chain fatty acid yields. These phenotypes allowed good discrimination of the energy-restricted high-SCS ewes and confirmed a high level of adipose tissue mobilization in this group. A second analysis, which included RNA-seq data, revealed high correlations between the long-chain fatty acid yields in milk and PDK4, CPT1A, SLC25A20, KLF10, and KLF11 expression, highlighting the relationship between mobilization of body reserves and enhanced fatty acids utilization for energy production in blood cells. Finally, analysis of milk composition measured in 1,025 ewes from the 2 genetic lines over 10 yr confirmed significant higher fat-to-protein ratio in high-SCS ewes in early lactation. Altogether, our results strongly confirmed a genetic link between susceptibility to mastitis and metabolic adaptation to energy shortage. Improving genetic resistance to mastitis using SCS should be accompanied by a favorable effect on the response to metabolic stress, especially in highly stressful early lactation. Moreover, this study suggests that the fat-to-protein ratio could be used as a low-cost tool for monitoring energy balance and ketosis during this critical phase of lactation.

Alternate JournalJ. Dairy Sci.
PubMed ID29331464