[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current on-farm methods for detecting mastitis in dairy cows have limitations with their specificity and sensitivity, particularly at an early stage of infection. There is therefore a need to explore new approaches for detecting early and subclinical mastitis. This study examined the expression of a group of neutrophil-specific proteins, the cathelicidins, in milk samples from naturally occurring as well as experimentally induced mastitis infections. Immunoblot analysis indicated that cathelicidin proteins are only observed in infected quarters and demonstrate a high correlation with somatic cell count (SCC) during the onset of infection. In most of the infections examined, cathelicidin was detected prior to the observation of clinical symptoms and at SCC counts as low as 6.2 × 10(3)cells/mL. In naturally occurring mastitis the correlation between cathelicidin and infection status is not as strong, with 25% of pathogen-positive milk samples containing no detectable cathelicidin. This may reflect the varying levels of neutrophil concentration and activity at different stages or severities of infection. Our results indicate that milk cathelicidin levels increase following intramammary infection and cathelicidin-based biomarkers may assist in the detection of preclinical mastitis or determining the stage of infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The effect of infusing a mixture of 5 Streptococcus uberis strains into mammary quarters of 10 lactating cows was investigated. All 5 strains, which included 2 originally isolated from the dairy environment and 3 from clinical cases of mastitis, were capable of establishing an intramammary infection when infused individually. However, when the 5 strains were infused together, a single strain predominated in 7 out of 10 quarters. One strain in particular prevailed in 4 mammary quarters and was also found to inhibit the growth of the other 4 strains with deferred antagonism on esculin blood agar. The genes required for the production of bacteriocins nisin U and uberolysin were identified in this strain, whereas the other 4 strains contained only uberolysin genes. Direct competition may have occurred between strains within the mammary gland but competition was not apparent when cultured together in UHT milk, where no strain predominated. Although the mechanism is unknown, these results imply that a selection process can occur within the mammary gland, leading to a single strain that is detected upon diagnosis of mastitis.