• Birth delivery method affects expression of immune genes in lung and jejunum tissue of neonatal beef calves

      Surlis, Carla; McNamara, Keelan; O’Hara, Eoin; Waters, Sinead; Beltman, Marijke; Cassidy, Joseph; Kenny, David (Biomed Central, 2017-12-14)
      Background Caesarean section is a routine veterinary obstetrical procedure employed to alleviate dystocia in cattle. However, CS, particularly before the onset of labour, is known to negatively affect neonatal respiration and metabolic adaptation in humans, though there is little published information for cattle. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of elective caesarean section (ECS) or normal trans-vaginal (TV) delivery, on lung and jejunal gene expression profiles of neonatal calves. Results Paternal half-sib Angus calves (gestation length 278 + 1.8 d) were delivered either transvaginally (TV; n = 8) or by elective caesarean section (ECS; n = 9) and immediately euthanized. Lung and jejunum epithelial tissue was isolated and snap frozen. Total RNA was extracted using Trizol reagent and reverse transcribed to generate cDNA. For lung tissue, primers were designed to target genes involved in immunity, surfactant production, cellular detoxification, membrane transport and mucin production. Primers for jejunum tissue were chosen to target mucin production, immunoglobulin uptake, cortisol reaction and membrane trafficking. Quantitative real-time PCR reactions were performed and data were statistically analysed using mixed models ANOVA. In lung tissue the expression of five genes were affected (p < 0.05) by delivery method. Four of these genes were present at lower (LAP, CYP1A1, SCN11α and SCN11β) and one (MUC5AC) at higher abundance in ECS compared with TV calves. In jejunal tissue, expression of TNFα, Il-1β and 1 l-6 was higher in ECS compared with TV calves. Conclusions This novel study shows that ECS delivery affects the expression of key genes involved in the efficiency of the pulmonary liquid to air transition at birth, and may lead to an increased inflammatory response in jejunal tissue, which could compromise colostral immunoglobulin absorption. These findings are important to our understanding of the viability and management of neonatal calves born through ECS.
    • Characterisation of the Whole Blood mRNA Transcriptome in Holstein-Friesian and Jersey Calves in Response to Gradual Weaning

      Johnston, D.; Earley, Bernadette; Cormican, Paul; Kenny, David A.; McCabe, Matthew; Kelly, A. K.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead (PLOS, 2016-08-01)
      Weaning of dairy calves is an early life husbandry management practice which involves the changeover from a liquid to a solid feed based diet. The objectives of the study were to use RNA-seq technology to examine the effect of (i) breed and (ii) gradual weaning, on the whole blood mRNA transcriptome of artificially reared Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. The calves were gradually weaned over 14 days (day (d) -13 to d 0) and mRNA transcription was examined one day before gradual weaning was initiated (d -14), one day after weaning (d 1), and 8 days after weaning (d 8). On d -14, 550 genes were differentially expressed between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves, while there were 490 differentially expressed genes (DEG) identified on d 1, and 411 DEG detected eight days after weaning (P < 0.05; FDR < 0.1). No genes were differentially expressed within breed, in response to gradual weaning (P > 0.05). The pathways, gene ontology terms, and biological functions consistently over-represented among the DEG between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey were associated with the immune response and immune cell signalling, specifically chemotaxis. Decreased transcription of several cytokines, chemokines, immunoglobulin-like genes, phagocytosis-promoting receptors and g-protein coupled receptors suggests decreased monocyte, natural killer cell, and T lymphocyte, chemotaxis and activation in Jersey compared to Holstein-Friesian calves. Knowledge of breed-specific immune responses could facilitate health management practices better tailored towards specific disease sensitivities of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. Gradual weaning did not compromise the welfare of artificially-reared dairy calves, evidenced by the lack of alterations in the expression of any genes in response to gradual weaning.
    • Electronic feeding behavioural data as indicators of health status in dairy calves

      Johnston, D.; Kenny, David A.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead; Kelly, A.K.; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
      The objectives of this study were (i) to characterise clinical health in dairy calves on an Irish research farm during the artificial calf-rearing period and (ii) to determine whether calves’ pre-weaning intakes and feeding behaviour, recorded by electronic calf feeders, changes in response to incidents of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Holstein-Friesian (H-F) and Jersey (J) calves were fed by automatic milk replacer (MR) and concentrate feeders. Feeding behaviour, including MR consumption, drinking speed, number of rewarded and unrewarded visits to the feeder as well as concentrate consumption, was recorded by the feeders. A modified version of the Wisconsin calf health scoring criteria chart was used to score calves’ clinical measurements and identify incidences of BRD. Thus, 40% of calves were found to have at least one incident of BRD. Feeding behaviour was altered during incidents of BRD. The number of unrewarded visits to the feeder was reduced, by approximately four visits, for calves with BRD during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD (P < 0.05) and tended to be reduced during the 7 d following the identification of BRD (P = 0.05), compared with healthy calves. Additionally, calves with BRD had a tendency for reduced net energy intake (approximately 8%) during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD, compared with healthy calves. Therefore, calf feeding behavioural data, recorded by electronic feeders during the pre-weaning period, can indicate cases of BRD.