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Global transcriptomic profiles of circulating leucocytes in early lactation cows with clinical or subclinical mastitis

Cheng, Zhangrui; Buggiotti, Laura; Salavati, M; Marchitelli, C; Palma-Vera, S; Wylie, A; Takeda, H; Tang, L; Crowe, MA; Wathes, DC; GplusE Consortium


Zhangrui Cheng

Laura Buggiotti

M Salavati

C Marchitelli

S Palma-Vera

A Wylie

H Takeda

L Tang

MA Crowe

DC Wathes

GplusE Consortium


Bovine mastitis is an inflammatory disease of the mammary gland, which is classified as subclinical or clinical. Circulating neutrophils are recruited to the udder to help combat infection. We compared the transcriptomic profiles in circulating leukocytes between healthy cows and those with naturally occurring subclinical or clinical mastitis. Holstein Friesian dairy cows from six farms in EU countries were recruited. Based on milk somatic cell count and clinical records, cows were classified as healthy (n = 144), subclinically (n = 48) or clinically mastitic (n = 22). Circulating leukocyte RNA was sequenced with Illumina NextSeq single end reads (30 M). Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the groups were identified using a DESeq 2 package, followed by GO enrichment analysis. Both subclinical and clinical mastitis caused significant changes in the leukocyte transcriptome, with more intensive changes attributed to clinical mastitis. We detected 491 DEGs between clinical and healthy groups, 350 DEGs between subclinical and healthy groups and 170 DEGs between clinical and subclinical groups. Most DEGs were associated with cell killing and immune processes. Many upregulated DEGs in clinical mastitis encoded antimicrobial peptides (AZU1, CAMP, CATHL1, CATHL2, CATHL4, CATHL5, CATHL6, DEFB1, DEFB10, DEFB4A, DEFB7, LCN2, PGLYRP1, S100A9, TF and LTF) which were not upregulated in subclinical mastitis. This suggests that the leukocytes will have greater killing capacity in cows with clinical mastitis. We have, for the first time, described circulating leukocyte transcriptomic profiles in naturally occurring subclinical mastitis and assessed their differences from healthy cows and those with clinical mastitis.


Cheng, Z., Buggiotti, L., Salavati, M., Marchitelli, C., Palma-Vera, S., Wylie, A., …GplusE Consortium. (in press). Global transcriptomic profiles of circulating leucocytes in early lactation cows with clinical or subclinical mastitis. Molecular Biology Reports,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 11, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 11, 2022
Print ISSN 0301-4851
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Public URL


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