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News Article

Test for microRNA could aid cattle health and productivity

MicroRNAs may prove to be useful selection and/or predictive biomarkers for traits of interest to the dairy industry

In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers found that the blood levels of certain microRNAs change dramatically during the early life of cows and that some of these blood molecules are associated with the incidence of diseases such as lameness and mastitis, as well as with milk production. Most of the microRNAs found to be associated with health traits are known to be linked to the immune response and inflammation.

Researchers at the Roslin Institute and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), who carried out the study, say a procedure to identify calves that are likely to have problems later in life would benefit the dairy industry.

MicroRNAs are small molecules produced by all body tissues, which play important regulatory roles in animals and plants. MicroRNA levels can be readily quantified in blood using standard laboratory procedures and can be used to assess changes in the function of specific body tissues, a feature that is already being exploited for disease diagnosis in humans.

Dr Xavier Donadeu, of the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, said: "As shown in previous studies, these results demonstrate that blood testing for microRNAs may be very useful as diagnostic tools in dairy cows and potentially other livestock species. They could allow for early selection of the healthiest animals in a herd in order to aid productivity and animal wellbeing."

Professor Georgios Banos, of the SRUC, said: "This work was funded by SRUC as a strategic topic of priority. We are investing in scientific research on the development of practical solutions for the improvement of livestock and farm practices. We are already designing collaborative follow-up projects and we look forward to exciting new outcomes."

Read article: Association of plasma microRNA expression with age, genetic background and functional traits in dairy cattle by Jason Ioannidis, Enrique Sánchez-Molano, Androniki Psifidi, F. Xavier Donadeu and Georgios Banos, published in Scientific Reports (2018) volume 8, Article number: 12955, doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31099-w

Article details

  • Date
  • 18 September 2018
  • Source
  • The Roslin Institute
  • Subject(s)
  • Food Animals