Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



J. Anim. Sci. 2015.93:1841–1849


© 2015 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.


Bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in feedlot cattle. Significant inflammation and lesions are often observed in lungs of infected cattle. During acute inflammatory responses, histones contribute to mortality in rodents and humans and serum proteins can protect against histone-induced cytotoxicity. We hypothesized that cattle experiencing chronic or fatal cases of BRDC have reduced ability to protect against cytotoxic effects of histones. Serum samples were collected from 66 bull calves at the time of normal feedlot processing procedures. Animals were retrospectively assigned to groups consisting of calves never treated for BRDC (control [CONT]; n = 10), calves treated with antimicrobials once for BRDC (1T; n = 16), calves treated twice for BRDC (2T; n = 13), calves treated 3 times for BRDC (3T; n = 14), or calves treated 4 times for BRDC (4T; n = 13). Samples were also collected each time animals received antimicrobial treatment; animals within a group were further sorted by calves that recovered and calves that died to test histone cytotoxicity. Bovine kidney cells were cultured in duplicate in 96-well plates and exposed to 0 or 50 μg/mL of total histones for 18 h with 1% serum from each animal. Cell viability was assessed by the addition of resazurin for 6 h followed by fluorescent quantification. Fluorescent values from serum alone were subtracted from values obtained for histone treatment for each animal. Serum from CONT, 1T, and 2T at initial processing all exhibited a similar (P > 0.10) response to histone treatment with fluorescent values of –312 ± 557, –1,059 ± 441, and –975 ± 489, respectively. However, 3T and 4T demonstrated an impaired capacity (P < 0.05) to protect against histones (–2,778 ± 471 and –3,026 ± 489) at initial processing when compared to the other groups. When sorted by mortality within group, calves that were treated twice and recovered (–847 ± 331) demonstrated a greater (P < 0.05) protective capacity than calves that were treated twice and died (–2,264 ± 412), indicating that calves that contract BRDC and ultimately die might have reduced protective capacity against histone cytotoxicity. Results suggest that calves that require multiple treatments for BRDC have reduced ability to protect against cytotoxicity of histones. Understanding the primary mechanism responsible for protecting against histone cytotoxicity could lead to improved identification of animals susceptible to severe cases of BRDC, improved focus and use of available resources, or better treatments for severe cases of BRDC.