Intramammary infusion of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide negatively affects feed intake, chewing, and clinical variables, but some effects are stronger in cows experiencing subacute rumen acidosis.
Feeding high-grain diets increases the risk of subacute rumen acidosis (SARA) and adversely affects rumen health. This condition might impair the responsiveness of cows when they are exposed to external infectious stimuli such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The main objective of this study was to evaluate various responses to intramammary LPS infusion in healthy dairy cows and those experimentally subjected to SARA. Eighteen early-lactating Simmental cows were subjected to SARA (n = 12) or control (CON; n = 6) feeding conditions. Cows of the control group received a diet containing 40% concentrates (DM basis) throughout the experiment. The intermittent SARA feeding regimen consisted in feeding the cows a ration with 60% concentrate (DM basis) for 32 d, consisting of a first SARA induction for 8 d, switched to the CON diet for 7 d, and re-induction during the last 17 d. On d 30 of the experiment, 6 SARA (SARA-LPS) and 6 CON (CON-LPS) cows were intramammary challenged once with a single dose of 50 μg of LPS from Escherichia coli (O26:B6), whereas the other 6 SARA cows (SARA-PLA) received 10 mL of sterile saline solution as placebo. To confirm the induction of SARA, the reticular pH was continuously monitored via wireless pH probes. The DMI remained unchanged between SARA and CON cows during the feeding experiment, but was reduced in both treatment groups receiving the LPS infusion compared with SARA-PLA, whereby a significant decline was observed for cows of the SARA-LPS treatment (-38%) compared with CON-LPS (-19%). The LPS infusion did not affect the reticuloruminal pH dynamics, but significantly enhanced ruminal temperature and negatively affected chewing behavior. The ruminal temperature increased after the LPS infusion and peaked about 1 h earlier in SARA-LPS cows compared with the cows of the CON-LPS treatment. Moreover, a significant decline in milk yield was found in SARA-LPS compared with CON-LPS following the LPS infusion. Cows receiving LPS had elevated somatic cell counts, protein, and fat contents in milk as well as decreased lactose contents and pH following the LPS infusion, whereby the changes in milk constituents were more pronounced in SARA-LPS than CON-LPS cows. Rectal temperature and pulse rate were highest 6 h after LPS infusion, but rumen contractions were not affected by the LPS infusion. The data suggest that a single intramammary LPS infusion induced fever and negatively affected feed intake, chewing activity, rectal temperature, and milk yield and composition, whereby these effects were more pronounced in SARA cows.