Background: It was recently reported that dairy cows fed a polyphenol-rich grape seed and grape marc meal extract (GSGME) during the transition period had an increased milk yield, but the underlying reasons remained unclear. As polyphenols exert a broad spectrum of metabolic effects, we hypothesized that feeding of GSGME influences metabolic pathways in the liver which could account for the positive effects of GSGME in dairy cows. In order to identify these pathways, we performed genome-wide transcript profiling in the liver and lipid profiling in plasma of dairy cows fed GSGME during the transition period at 1 week postpartum.
Results: Transcriptomic analysis of the liver revealed 207 differentially expressed transcripts, from which 156 were up- and 51 were down-regulated, between cows fed GSGME and control cows. Gene set enrichment analysis of the 155 up-regulated mRNAs showed that the most enriched gene ontology (GO) biological process terms were dealing with cell cycle regulation and the most enriched Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways were p53 signaling and cell cycle. Functional analysis of the 43 down-regulated mRNAs revealed that a great part of these genes are involved in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced unfolded protein response (UPR) and inflammatory processes. Accordingly, protein folding, response to unfolded protein, unfolded protein binding, chemokine activity and heat shock protein binding were identified as one of the most enriched GO biological process and molecular function terms assigned to the down-regulated genes. In line with the transcriptomics data the plasma concentrations of the acute phase proteins serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin were reduced in cows fed GSGME compared to control cows. Lipidomic analysis of plasma revealed no differences in the concentrations of individual species of major and minor lipid classes between cows fed GSGME and control cows.
Conclusions: Analysis of hepatic transcript profile in cows fed GSGME during the transition period at 1 week postpartum indicates that polyphenol-rich feed components are able to inhibit ER stress-induced UPR and inflammatory processes, both of which are considered to contribute to liver-associated diseases and to impair milk performance in dairy cows, in the liver of dairy cows during early lactation.
Keywords: Dairy cow; Early lactation; Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Grape seed and grape marc meal extract; Inflammation; Lipidomics; Liver; Polyphenols; Transcriptomics.