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Animals 2015, 5(3), 748-773; doi:10.3390/ani5030382

Relationships between Circulating Urea Concentrations and Endometrial Function in Postpartum Dairy Cows

Department of Production and Population Health, Royal Veterinary College, North Mymms, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK
These authors contributed equally to this work.
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Àlex Bach
Received: 27 April 2015 / Revised: 24 July 2015 / Accepted: 7 August 2015 / Published: 14 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutritional and Metabolic Health of Dairy Cow)
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Simple Summary

Dairy cows fed high levels of protein to increase milk yield tend to have reduced fertility but the reasons behind this are unclear. Differing dietary protein levels are reflected in altered urea concentrations in both blood and other tissues including the uterus. We showed that the circulating urea concentration was highly correlated to changed expression levels of many genes in the endometrium shortly after calving. These were predominantly associated with tissue repair, innate immunity and lipid metabolism. A subsequent study found no effect of altered urea concentration on endometrial gene expression in vitro implying that the dietary influence is indirect.

Abstract

Both high and low circulating urea concentrations, a product of protein metabolism, are associated with decreased fertility in dairy cows through poorly defined mechanisms. The rate of involution and the endometrial ability to mount an adequate innate immune response after calving are both critical for subsequent fertility. Study 1 used microarray analysis to identify genes whose endometrial expression 2 weeks postpartum correlated significantly with the mean plasma urea per cow, ranging from 3.2 to 6.6 mmol/L. The biological functions of 781 mapped genes were analysed using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. These were predominantly associated with tissue turnover (e.g., BRINP1, FOXG1), immune function (e.g., IL17RB, CRISPLD2), inflammation (e.g., C3, SERPINF1, SERPINF2) and lipid metabolism (e.g., SCAP, ACBD5, SLC10A). Study 2 investigated the relationship between urea concentration and expression of 6 candidate genes (S100A8, HSP5A, IGF1R, IL17RB, BRINP1, CRISPLD2) in bovine endometrial cell culture. These were treated with 0, 2.5, 5.0 or 7.5 mmol/L urea, equivalent to low, medium and high circulating values with or without challenge by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS increased S100A8 expression as expected but urea treatment had no effect on expression of any tested gene. Examination of the genes/pathways involved suggests that plasma urea levels may reflect variations in lipid metabolism. Our results suggest that it is the effects of lipid metabolism rather than the urea concentration which probably alter the rate of involution and innate immune response, in turn influencing subsequent fertility. View Full-Text
Keywords: protein metabolism; innate immunity; endometrium; involution; cholesterol protein metabolism; innate immunity; endometrium; involution; cholesterol
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Cheng, Z.; Oguejiofor, C.F.; Swangchan-Uthai, T.; Carr, S.; Wathes, D.C. Relationships between Circulating Urea Concentrations and Endometrial Function in Postpartum Dairy Cows. Animals 2015, 5, 748-773.

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