Effect of Oestrous Cycle on the Oxidative Burst Activity of Blood Polymorphonuclear Leucocytes in Cows


Author’s address (for correspondence): A. Chaveiro, Animal Reproduction, Department of Agrarian Sciences, University of the Azores, 9700 Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal. E-mail: antoniochaveiro@uac.pt


Blood polymorphonuclear leucocyte (PMN) oxidative burst activity, plasma cortisol levels, and the total and differential white blood cells counts (WBC) of six cycled dairy cows were evaluated for a period of 24 days, three times a week; on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The PMN oxidative burst was indirectly evaluated by flow cytometry, measuring the intracellular oxidation of 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein diacetate to 2′,7′ dichlorofluorescein (DCF) by H2O2-production. Results are pre-sented as the mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) of DCF. Cow’s oestrous cycle was evaluated by following the plasma progesterone levels using a radioimmunoassay method. Levels of cortisol in the plasma were measured using a fluorimetric method. The oxidative burst activity of PMN, represented a maximum value (MFI = 117.6 ± 7.4) during the oestrous period. A fall was then observed, in which a steady state was observed during the lutheinic phase of the oestrous cycle, reaching the minimum value [MFI = 73.2 ± 11.2 (p ≤ 0.01)] on the days +8, +9 and +10. No significant variations were observed in the levels of cortisol, or in total and differential WBC, during the whole period. Nevertheless, as far as cortisol levels were concerned, a trend analogous to that of the oxidative burst activity was observed. Our results demonstrated that the oestrous cycle might influence directly, or indirectly, the immune system of cows, by altering the oxidative burst of PMN.