Occurrence of retained placenta is preceded by an inflammatory state and alterations of energy metabolism in transition dairy cows

Elda Dervishi, Guanshi Zhang, Dagnachew Hailemariam, Suzana M. Dunn, Burim N. Ametaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Failure to expel fetal membranes within 24h of calving is a pathological condition defined as retained placenta (RP). The objective of this investigation was to evaluate whether there are alterations in several selected serum variables related to innate immunity and carbohydrate and lipid metabolism that precede occurrence of RP in transition Holstein dairy cows. Methods: One hundred multiparous Holstein dairy cows were involved in the study. Blood samples were collected from the coccygeal vein during the -8 to +4 wks around parturition, once per week before the morning feeding. Six healthy control cows (CON) and 6 cows with RP were selected and serum samples at -8, -4, time of diagnosis of disease, and +4 wks relative to parturition were used for analyses. All samples were analyzed for lactate, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), haptoglobin (Hp), and serum amyloid A (SAA). Results: Cows with RP had greater concentrations of serum lactate, IL-1, IL-6, TNF, and SAA in comparison with CON cows. Intriguingly, elevated concentrations of all five variables were observed at -8 and -4 wks before the occurrence of RP compared to healthy cows. Cows with RP also had lower DMI and milk production vs CON animals; however milk composition was not affected by RP. Conclusions: Cows with RP showed an activated innate immunity 8 wks prior to diagnosis of disease. Overall results suggest that serum IL-1, IL- 6, and TNF, and lactate can be used as screening biomarkers to indicate cows that might have health issues during the transition period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number26
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 26 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Innate immunity
  • Retained placenta
  • Serum metabolites
  • Transition dairy cows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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