Adipose tissue is an active endocrine organ which secretes a wide range of hormones and protein factors, collectively termed adipokines. Adipokines affect appetite and satiety, glucose and lipid metabolism, inflammation and immune functions. The objectives were to evaluate serum concentrations of adipokines (adiponectin, leptin, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta and IL-6) in lactating dairy cows with postpartum uterine inflammatory conditions (metritis, clinical endometritis or subclinical endometritis) and in cows experiencing loss of body condition, and to assess the relationship of adipokines and body condition loss in the establishment of persistent uterine inflammatory conditions.
Lactating multiparous Holstein cows (N = 40), with body condition scores (BCS) from 2 to 4 (eight cows for each 0.5 score increment) were enrolled. Body condition was monitored for all cows weekly for 7 weeks post calving; cows with uterine inflammatory conditions were also re-evaluated 2 weeks later. Blood samples were collected from 1 week prior to calving to 7 weeks after calving for determination of serum concentrations of adipokines, insulin and insulin like growth factor (IGF)-1.
Cows with metritis or clinical endometritis had higher serum concentrations of adiponectin, leptin, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6 compared to normal cows (P < 0.05). Furthermore, serum leptin, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6 were higher in cows with subclinical endometritis compared to normal cows (P < 0.05), and insulin and IGF-1 concentrations were lower in cows with metritis or clinical endometritis. Cows with low BCS (2 and 2.5) had significantly higher adiponectin, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6 than those with high BCS (3 to 4). Cows with persistent uterine inflammatory conditions had higher adiponectin, leptin TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6 and insulin compared to normal and spontaneously recovered cows, except for IGF-1 (P < 0.05).
Serum concentrations of adipokines, insulin, and IGF-1 had significant associations with BCS categories (low vs. high) and postpartum uterine inflammatory conditions. Perhaps loss of body condition mediated increases in anti- and pro-inflammatory cytokines, whereas increased pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines concentrations mediated body condition loss and thereby prolonged persistence of uterine inflammation in dairy cows.