A proteomic perspective on the changes in milk proteins due to high somatic cell count

Zhang, L.; Boeren, J.A.; Hooijdonk, A.C.M. van; Vervoort, J.J.M.; Hettinga, K.A.


Although cows with subclinical mastitis have no difference in the appearance of their milk, milk composition and milk quality are altered because of the inflammation. To know the changes in milk quality with different somatic cell count (SCC) levels, 5 pooled bovine milk samples with SCC from 105 to 106 cells/mL were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using both one-dimension sodium dodecyl sulfate PAGE and filter-aided sample preparation coupled with dimethyl labeling, both followed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Minor differences were found on the qualitative level in the proteome from milk with different SCC levels, whereas the concentration of milk proteins showed remarkable changes. Not only immune-related proteins (cathelicidins, IGK protein, CD59 molecule, complement regulatory protein, lactadherin), but also proteins with other biological functions (e.g., lipid metabolism: platelet glycoprotein 4, butyrophilin subfamily 1 member A1, perilipin-2) were significantly different in milk from cows with high SCC level compared with low SCC level. The increased concentration of protease inhibitors in the milk with higher SCC levels may suggest a protective role in the mammary gland against protease activity. Prostaglandin-H2 D-isomerase showed a linear relation with SCC, which was confirmed with an ELISA. However, the correlation coefficient was lower in individual cows compared with bulk milk. These results indicate that prostaglandin-H2 D-isomerase may be used as an indicator to evaluate bulk milk quality and thereby reduce the economic loss in the dairy industry. The results from this study reflect the biological phenomena occurring during subclinical mastitis and in addition provide a potential indicator for the detection of bulk milk with high SCC.