Metabolomic changes in Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) challenged Holstein–Friesian cattle highlight the role of serum amino acids as indicators of immune system activation

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Early online date23 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2022
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Paratuberculosis, commonly known as Johne’s disease, is a chronic granulomatous infection of ruminants caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Clinical signs, including reduced milk yields, weight loss and diarrhoea, are typically absent until 2 to 6 years post exposure.

To identify metabolomic changes profiles of MAP challenged Holstein–Friesian (HF) cattle and correlate identified metabolites to haematological and immunological parameters.

At approximately 6 weeks of age, calves (n = 9) were challenged with 3.8 × 109 cells of MAP (clinical isolate CIT003) on 2 consecutive days. Additional unchallenged calves (n = 9) formed the control group. The study used biobanked serum from cattle sampled periodically from 3- to 33-months post challenge. The assessment of sera using flow infusion electrospray high resolution mass spectrometry (FIE-HRMS) for high throughput, sensitive, non-targeted metabolite fingerprinting highlighted differences in metabolite levels between the two groups.

In total, 25 metabolites which were differentially accumulated in MAP challenged cattle were identified, including 20 which displayed correlation to haematology parameters, particularly monocyte levels.

The targeted metabolites suggest shifts in amino acid metabolism that could reflect immune system activation linked to MAP and as well as differences in phosphocholine levels which could reflect activation of the Th1 (tending towards pro-inflammatory) immune response. If verified by future work, selected metabolites could be used as biomarkers to diagnose and manage MAP infected cattle.


  • mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, metabolomics, haematology, amino acids, immune response