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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improving Immunity, Health, and Well-Being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Natural variations in the stress and acute phase responses of cattle

Authors
item Hughes, Heather -
item Carroll, Jeffery
item Sanchez, Nicole
item Richeson, John -

Submitted to: Innate Immunity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 22, 2013
Publication Date: November 11, 2013
Citation: Hughes, H.D., Carroll, J.A., Sanchez, N.C., Richeson, J.T. 2013. Natural variations in the stress and acute phase responses of cattle. Innate Immunity. DOI:10.1177/1753425913508993.

Interpretive Summary: In response to an infectious agent or trauma, the innate immune system activates the acute phase response. The acute phase response is a cascade of systemic reactions that include fever and changes in the metabolic and behavioral responses of an animal. Several different factors can affect the outcome of the acute phase response, with the most notable factor being stress. Activation of the stress response can be detrimental or beneficial to the outcome of the acute phase response depending on the length of time stress hormones, such as cortisol, remain elevated. Elevation of stress hormones for a short duration of time can be beneficial, while elevation of stress hormones repeatedly or over an extended period of time can be detrimental to the overall health and well-being of an animal. Other naturally-occuring factors that can influence the outcome of the acute phase response have also been documented. These factors include breed, gender, and temperament. These natural variations serve as modulators of the stress response, making stress an important component to consider when observing the impacts of these variations on innate immune function. Understanding that cattle have different immunological responses, based on naturally occuring variations such as these, may provide insight on how to more effectively manage cattle so that health is optimized and production is benefited.

Technical Abstract: The initial response of the innate immune system upon activation has been defined as the acute phase response (APR). Activation of the APR results in several responses that include fever, metabolic adaptations, and changes in behavior. The APR can be modulated by many factors, with stress being the most common. An elevation of stress hormones for a short duration of time can be beneficial. However, elevation of stress hormones repeatedly or for an extended duration of time can be detrimental to the overall health and well-being of animals. The stress and APR responses can also be modulated by naturally-occurring variations, such as breed, gender, and temperament. These three natural variations modulate both the stress and APR response, and can therefore modulate the ability of an animal to recover from a stressor or infection. Through an understanding of the effects these natural variations can have on the stress and APR, alternative management strategies can be developed in order to potentially overcome barriers that these variations present.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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