During the periparturient phase, cows are typically in an inflammation-like condition, and it has been proposed that inflammation associated with the induction of stress of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in the liver contributes to the development of fatty liver syndrome and ketosis. In the present study, the hypothesis that supplementation of dairy cows with a plant product consisting of green tea (95%) and curcuma extract (5%) rich in polyphenols attenuates inflammation and ER stress in the liver during early lactation was investigated. Twenty-seven cows were assigned to two groups, either a control group (n=14) or a treatment group (n=13). Both groups of cows received a total mixed ration, and the ration of the treatment group was supplemented with 0.175 g of the plant product per kg dry matter from week 3 prepartum to week 9 postpartum. Dry matter intake and energy balance during week 2 to week 9 postpartum were not different between the two groups. However, cows supplemented with the plant product had a greater amount of energy-corrected milk during week 2 to week 9 postpartum and lower concentrations of triacylglycerols and cholesterol in the liver in week 1 and week 3 postpartum than cows of the control group (p<0.05). Cows supplemented with the plant product showed a trend towards a reduced mRNA concentration of haptoglobin (p<0.10), while relative mRNA concentrations of eight genes of the unfolded protein response considered in the liver were not different between the two groups of cows. Relative hepatic mRNA concentration of fibroblast growth factor, a stress hormone induced by various stress conditions, was reduced at week 1 and week 3 postpartum in cows supplemented with the plant product (p<0.05). Overall, the data of this study suggest that--although there were only minor effects on the occurrence of ER stress and inflammation--a supplementation of polyphenols might be useful to improve milk yield and prevent fatty liver syndrome in dairy cows.
Keywords: dairy cows; endoplasmic reticulum stress; inflammation; liver; polyphenols; transition period.