Differential levels of mRNA transcripts encoding immunologic mediators in mammary gland secretions from dairy cows with subclinical environmental Streptococci infections

Daniela R. Bruno, Paul V. Rossitto, Ralph G S Bruno, Myra Blanchard, Tatjana Sitt, Bret V. Yeargan, Wayne L. Smith, James S Cullor, Jeffrey L Stott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Dry-off, and the period around parturition, are associated with increased susceptibility to intramammary infections in dairy cows. The immunological profiles of mammary gland secretions during these periods are not well described. The objective of the present study was to better characterize association(s) between chronic subclinical Environmental Streptococci infections at dry-off and relative levels of mRNA transcripts encoding multiple immunologic mediators present in cells derived from mammary gland secretions at dry-off and continuing through parturition. The chronic subclinical bacterial infections in the present study were characterized by multiple isolations of Streptococcus species and elevated SSC for a minimum of three weeks prior to dry-off. The majority of differences between principal and control quarters were identified at dry-off. Transcript levels of IL-17, IL2Rα and iNOS were increased while pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6, and the regulatory cytokine IL-10, were reduced.Following antibiotic treatment of mammary glands, IL-17 transcripts remained elevated over the course of the study, indicative of a persistent insult. IL-4 transcript levels were modestly elevated at 7 days following dry-off and significantly elevated at 14 days, consistent with activated TH1 and TH2 lymphocytes in the principal quarters, respectively. From a temporal perspective, transcript levels of IL-8 decreased in all animals through the dry-off period animals and returned to pre-dry-off levels at parturition; levels of iNOS peaked at parturition. Five of the six principal cows experienced recurrent bacterial mastitis during the subsequent lactation; four were in the same quarter as was initially infected with Streptococcus and three of these four were due to coliforms. Taken together, this apparent chronic susceptibility of select mammary glands to bacterial infection would suggest a physiologic and/or immunologic dysfunction. Identification of factor(s) that contribute to the predisposition of mammary glands to developing mastitis should facilitate development of new control strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 15 2010


  • Cytokine expression
  • Environmental Streptococci
  • Immunology
  • Mastitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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