Understanding the Molecular Mechanisms Involved in Subacute Ruminal Acidosis and Rumenitis
This work helps to determine the extent of immune system involvement in the adaptive response to subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) in three parts. The first (Chapter 2) uses non-lactating cows to study specific changes in inflammatory protein expression in which SARA is created. The second (Chapter 3), uses the same model as Chapter 2. However, in this case, lactating cows are used to help establish the time course for adaptation to acidosis. The third part (Chapter 4) delineates the genomic changes that occur in the rumen epithelium when a therapeutic intervention is introduced using exogenous supplemental butyrate. In the first experiment, the expression of the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins type IV collagen and laminin β1 decreased, and the monocarboxylate transporter MCT1, increased during the acidotic challenge. Nuclear factor of activated T-cells, NFATc2, and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) decreased while interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) increased during the experimental treatment period. Chapter 3 measured lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and its carrier, LPS binding protein, LBP, which were found to be elevated due to SARA. Moreover, NFATc2 was reduced during this period. Exogenous butyrate resulted in increased plasma LBP, plasma beta hydroxyl butyrate (BHBA), and ruminal butyrate. Milk parameters (total protein and fat) were unaffected by treatment, as were rumen LPS, acetate, valerate, isovalerate, and isobutyrate. Moreover, exogenous butyrate increased gene transcription of genes involved in non-specific host defences (NHSD) such as mucin, and remodelling (RM), such as matrix metallopeptidase 16 (MMP16), and decreased the transcription of genes of the immune response (IR), such as nuclear factor kappa B2 (NFκB2). Together, these three experiments have demonstrated that although wound healing is mediated by the immune system in more severe models of epithelial damage, our model of SARA did not involve full-thickness, penetrating lesions and hence did not involve the systemic immune system to such a degree than was previously thought. In addition, we were able to demonstrate that the addition of butyrate to this model of grain-induced acidosis was beneficial, as it decreased the local inflammatory response and helped the epithelium adapt to its harsher environment.