Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Aspects of transition cow metabolomics - Part II: Histomorphologic changes in the liver parenchyma throughout the transition period, in cows with different liver metabotypes and effects of a metaphylactic butaphosphan and cyanocobalamin treatment

The aims of this study were to evaluate histopathologic changes during the transition period, describe the histopathological features of the metabotypes identified in Part I (Schären et al., 2021b), and investigate effects of a metaphylactic treatment with butaphosphan and cyanocobalamin (BCC) on the liver parenchyma. Eighty German Holstein cows (mean 305-d production: 10,957 kg, range: 6,480-15,193 kg; mean lactation number: 3.9, range: 2-9) from a commercial dairy farm in Saxony, Germany, were enrolled in a randomized, prospective, triple-blinded study. Two groups received a treatment with BCC (5 or 10 mL/100 kg of body weight 10% butaphosphan and 0.005% cyanocobalamin, Catosal, Bayer Animal Health, n = 20 each) and one group a placebo treatment (NaCl 0.9%, n = 40). Liver biopsy specimens were collected 14 d antepartum (AP) and 7, 28, and 42 d postpartum (PP), routinely processed for histologic examination, and stained with hematoxylin and eosin, Sudan III, periodic acid-Schiff, and picrosirius red stains. The sections were assessed for fat and glycogen content and degenerative, inflammatory, fibrotic, and proliferative changes. The statistical analysis included the effects of the sampling day, the lactation number, the treatment, and the metabotype (A = medium, B = minor, C = large alterations in the liver metabolome profile between AP and PP status). There was mild to moderate fat infiltration in the liver of 37% of cows in the last 2 wk AP, and moderate to severe fat infiltration in 66% of cows in the first days PP. The degree of fat infiltration increased from 2 wk AP until the end of the first week PP, and then decreased until the end of the study period, at which time about 25% of cows had moderate to severe fatty infiltration. Lipidosis was positively correlated with the severity of liver cell degeneration, and negatively correlated with the degree of glycogen deposits. Complete glycogen depletion of hepatocytes was not observed in cows, even in the presence of severe hepatic lipidosis. Moderate to severe lymphocytic hepatitis was seen in 39% of cows throughout the study period, and cows with lactation numbers 5 or greater had perisinusoidal fibrosis more often than younger cows. Severe fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver did not occur. Metabotype B animals exhibited a higher chance of fatty infiltration, lower glycogen storage, and perisinusoidal fibrosis and for this metabotype positive correlations were calculated between increased fat deposition in the liver and marked glycogen depletion, and increased degenerative, inflammatory, fibrotic, and proliferative changes of hepatic tissue. For the treatment with BCC, no significant effect was observed. In summary, during the transition period, the liver of dairy cows is characterized by fat accumulation and glycogen depletion and histologic signs of hepatitis and hepatocyte degeneration. These histomorphologic changes were accentuated in animals exhibiting little alterations in their liver metabolome profile across the transition period (metabotype B) and support the assumption of a decreased grass silage quality as a causative factor.

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