Massimo Bionaz is an Assistant Professor in the department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences at Oregon State University (USA). He grew up in the heart of the Italian Alp grazing cows in the mountains. He received his Italian Laurea in Animal Science and his PhD in Ruminant Physiopathology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy. He worked as post-doctorate at the Pennsylvania State University (USA) and at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA) where he specialized on functional nutriphysiogenomics in livestock and porcine mesenchymal stem cells for maxillofacial bone repair. His main research interest is nutrigenomics in dairy cows.
WDS-0182: What is the present and the future of nutrigenomics in dairy cows?
Nutrigenomics is defined as the study of the influences of nutrition on expression of genes. Available data indicate that several dietary compounds present in dairy cows’ rations affect gene expression. It is well-known the nutrigenomic effect of t10,c12-conjugated linoleic acid on depressing milk fat synthesis. A potent nutrigenomic role of saturated fatty acids, especially palmitate and stearate, is emerging. Available data indicate that saturated fatty acids activate a specific transcription factor denominated Peroxisome Proliferator-activated Receptor (PPAR) in ruminants. The three isotypes of this receptor have a large spectrum of regulation in vivo, with a prominent role on regulating lipid metabolism, glucose metabolism, and immune system. For this reason, it is theoretically possible to help dairy cows to improve performance and health by activating PPAR, especially during the peripartum. Recent data from in vivo studies support a role of PPAR activation on improving the metabolism of post-partum cows and the response to mastitis. Besides fatty acids, also amino acids have a nutrigenomic role, especially in controlling milk protein synthesis. The study of nutrigenomics in dairy cows is in its infancy. Initial data are supportive of a strong effect of few evaluated dietary compounds on gene expression. We expect to find more compounds present in diets with nutrigenomic properties. Basics questions need to be answered before practical on-farm suggestions can be made. However, the study of nutrigenomic effects of dietary compounds in dairy cows has dual benefits for dairy farmers. It can allow to harness in a “natural” and cost-effective way the nutrigenomic properties of specific compounds to improve the metabolism and the performance of dairy cows and can improve future strategies to better feed dairy cattle. We expect that basic nutrigenomic research in dairy cows will provide the solid foundation to develop practical on-farm feeding strategies.
1Oregon State University, Animal and Rangeland Sciences, Corvallis, U.S.A.