Open Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 40, Number 4, July-August 2009
Number of page(s) 14
Published online 27 March 2009
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2009) 40:31
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2009) 40:31
DOI: 10.1051/vetres/2009014

Assessment of the immune capacity of mammary epithelial cells: comparison with mammary tissue after challenge with Escherichia coli

Juliane Günther1, Dirk Koczan2, Wei Yang1, 3, Gerd Nürnberg1, Dirk Repsilber1, Hans-Joachim Schuberth4, Zaneta Park5, Nauman Maqbool6, Adrian Molenaar6 and Hans-Martin Seyfert1

1  Research Institute for the Biology of Farm Animals (FBN), Molecular Biology Research Unit, Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany
2  Institute for Immunology, Steinbeis Transfercenter for Proteome Analysis, Core Facility for Transcriptome Analysis, Schillingalle 70, 18055 Rostock, Germany
3  Present address: Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham NC 27710, USA
4  University of Veterinary Medicine, Immunology Unit, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany
5  AgResearch, Palmerston North, New Zealand
6  AgResearch, Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton, New Zealand

Received 25 June 2008; accepted 24 March 2009; published online 27 March 2009

Abstract - We examined the repertoire and extent of inflammation dependent gene regulation in a bovine mammary epithelial cell (MEC) model, to better understand the contribution of the MEC in the immune defence of the udder. We challenged primary cultures of MEC from cows with heat inactivated Escherichia coli pathogens and used Affymetrix DNA-microarrays to profile challenge related alterations in their transcriptome. Compared to acute mastitis, the most prominently activated genes comprise those encoding chemokines, interleukins, beta-defensins, serum amyloid A and haptoglobin. Hence, the MEC exert sentinel as well as effector functions of innate immune defence. E. coli stimulated a larger fraction of genes (30%) in the MEC belonging to the functional category Inflammatory Response than we recorded with the same microarrays during acute mastitis in the udder (17%). This observation underscores the exquisite immune capacity of MEC. To more closely examine the adequacy of immunological regulation in MEC, we compared the inflammation dependent regulation of factors contributing to the complement system between the udder versus the MEC. In the MEC we observed only up regulation of several complement factor-encoding genes. Mastitis, in contrast, in the udder strongly down regulates such genes encoding factors contributing to both, the classical pathway of complement activation and the Membrane Attack Complex, while the expression of factors contributing to the alternative pathway may be enhanced. This functionally polarized regulation of the complex complement pathway is not reflected in the MEC models.

Key words: mastitis / transcriptome profiling / immune capacity / mammary epithelial cell

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2009