Concurrent and long-term associations between the endometrial microbiota and endometrial transcriptome in postpartum dairy cows
Background: Fertility in dairy cows depends on ovarian cyclicity and on uterine involution. Ovarian cyclicity and uterine involution are delayed when there is uterine dysbiosis (overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria). Fertility in dairy cows may involve a mechanism through which the uterine microbiota affects ovarian cyclicity as well as the transcriptome of the endometrium within the involuting uterus. The hypothesis was that the transcriptome of the endometrium in postpartum cows would be associated with the cyclicity status of the cow as well as the microbiota during uterine involution. The endometrium of first lactation dairy cows was sampled at 1, 5, and 9 weeks postpartum. All cows were allowed to return to cyclicity without intervention until week 5 and treated with an ovulation synchronization protocol so that sampling at week 9 was on day 13 of the estrous cycle. The endometrial microbiota was measured by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and principal component analysis. The endometrial transcriptome was measured by mRNA sequencing, differential gene expression analysis, and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Results: The endometrial microbiota changed from week 1 to week 5 but the week 5 and week 9 microbiota were similar. The endometrial transcriptome differed for cows that were either cycling or not cycling at week 5 and cyclicity status depended in part on the endometrial microbiota. Compared with cows cycling at week 5, there were large changes in the transcriptome of cows that progressed from non-cycling at week 5 to cycling at week 9. There was evidence for concurrent and longer-term associations between the endometrial microbiota and transcriptome. The week 1 endometrial microbiota had the greatest effect on the subsequent endometrial transcriptome and this effect was greatest at week 5 and diminished by week 9. Conclusions: The cumulative response of the endometrial transcriptome to the microbiota represented the combination of past microbial exposure and current microbial exposure. The endometrial transcriptome in postpartum cows, therefore, depended on the immediate and longer-term effects of the uterine microbiota that acted directly on the uterus. There may also be an indirect mechanism through which the microbiome affects the transcriptome through the restoration of ovarian cyclicity postpartum.
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