Journal of dairy science

Cow-to-cow variation in fibroblast response to a toll-like receptor 2/6 agonist and its relation to mastitis caused by intramammary challenge with Staphylococcus aureus.

PMID 25597966


Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of chronic mammary gland infections in dairy cattle. However, the inflammatory response and duration of infection following pathogen exposure is variable between individual animals. To investigate interanimal differences in immune response, dermal fibroblast cultures were established from skin biopsies collected from 50 early lactation Holstein cows. The fibroblasts ability to produce IL-8 in response to a 24-h treatment with a synthetic toll-like receptor 2/6 agonist (Pam2CSK4) was used to assign a response phenotype to the animals. Five high-responding and 5 low-responding animals were then selected for an intramammary challenge with S. aureus to evaluate differences in the inflammatory response, chronicity of infection, and development of antibodies to the pathogen. All animals exhibited clinical symptoms of mastitis at 24h postchallenge. Animals previously classified as high responders experienced a greater inflammatory response characterized by elevated levels of milk somatic cell count, IL-8, and BSA following the challenge compared with low responders. In addition, antibodies toward the challenge strain of S. aureus reached higher levels in whey from the challenged gland of high responders compared with low responders. Despite the antibody response, all 5 high responders were chronically infected for the 6-wk duration of the study, whereas 2 of the low responders cleared the infection, although 1 of these did become reinfected. The observed differences between animals classified as low and high responders based on their fibroblast responsiveness suggests that this cell type can be used to further examine the causes of interanimal variation in response to mammary infection.