Background: In post-partum dairy cows, the energy needs to satisfy high milk production induces a status of more or less pronounced Negative Energy Balance (NEB). NEB associated with fat mobilization impairs reproductive function. In a companion paper, we described constitutive gene expression in the three main endometrial cell types (stromal, glandular and luminal epithelial cells) isolated by laser capture micro-dissection (LCM) showing the specificities of their transcriptomic profiles. This study investigates the specific impact of NEB on gene expression in these cells around 80 days after parturition at day 15 of the oestrus cycle and describes their specific response to NEB.
Results: Following the description of their constitutive expression, the transcriptome profiles obtained by RNA sequencing of the three cells types revealed that differences related to the severity of NEB altered mainly specific patterns of expression related to individual cell types. Number of differentially expressed genes between severe NEB (SNEB) and mild NEB (MNEB) cows was higher in ST than in LE and GE, respectively. SNEB was associated with differential expression of genes coding for proteins involved in metabolic processes and embryo-maternal interactions in ST. Under-expression of genes encoding proteins with functions related to cell structure was found in GE whereas genes encoding proteins participating in pro-inflammatory pathways were over-expressed. Genes associated to adaptive immunity were under-expressed in LE.
Conclusion: The severity of NEB after calving is associated with changes in gene expression around 80 days after parturition corresponding to the time of breeding. Specific alterations in GEs are associated with activation of pro-inflammatory mechanisms. Concomitantly, changes in the expression of genes encoding proteins involved in cell interactions and maternal recognition of pregnancy takes place in ST. The combination of these effects possibly altering the uterine environment and embryo maternal interactions may negatively influence the establishment of pregnancy.
Keywords: Cell type-specific; Endometrium; Inflammation; LCM; Negative energy balance; RNA-seq; Transcriptome.