The objective of this series of studies was to investigate the effects of inflammatory diseases occurring before breeding on the developmental biology and reproductive responses in dairy cows. Data from 5 studies were used to investigate different questions associating health status before breeding and reproductive responses. Health information for all studies was composed of the incidence of retained fetal membranes, metritis, mastitis, lameness, and respiratory and digestive problems from parturition until the day of breeding. Retained placenta and metritis were grouped as uterine disease (UTD). Mastitis, lameness, digestive and respiratory problems were grouped as nonuterine diseases (NUTD). Study 1 evaluated the effect of disease before artificial insemination (AI), anovulation before synchronization of the estrous cycle, and low body condition score at AI on pregnancy per AI, as well as their potential interactions or additive effects. Study 2 investigated the effect of site of inflammation (UTD vs. NUTD) and time of occurrence relative to preantral or antral stages of ovulatory follicle development, and the effect of UTD and NUTD on fertility responses of cows bred by AI or by embryo transfer. Study 3 evaluated the effect of disease on fertilization and embryonic development to the morula stage. Study 4 evaluated the effect of disease on preimplantation conceptus development as well as secretion of IFN-τ and transcriptome. Study 5 investigated the effect of diseases before AI on the transcript expression of interferon-stimulated genes in peripheral blood leukocytes during peri-implantation stages of conceptus development after first AI postpartum. Altogether, these studies demonstrated that inflammatory disease before breeding reduced fertilization of oocytes and development to morula, and impaired early conceptus development to elongation stages and secretion of IFN-τ in the uterine lumen. Diseases caused inflammation-like changes in transcriptome of conceptus cells, increased risk of pregnancy loss, and reduced pregnancy or calving per breeding. Moreover, the effects on reproduction were independent of cyclic status before synchronization of the estrous cycle and body condition score at breeding, which all had additive negative effects on fertility of dairy cows. Occurrence of disease at preantral or at antral stages of ovulatory follicle development had similar detrimental effects on pregnancy results. The carryover effects of diseases on developmental biology might last longer than 4 mo. Reduced oocyte competence is a likely reason for carryover effects of diseases on developmental biology, but impaired uterine environment was also shown to be involved.
- Dairy cow