Stress in livestock reduces productivity and is a welfare concern. At a physiological level, stress is associated with the activation of inflammatory responses and increased levels of harmful reactive oxygen species. Biomarkers that are indicative of stress could facilitate the identification of more stress-resilient animals. We examined twenty-one metabolic, immune response, and liver function biomarkers that have been associated with stress in 416 Italian Simmental and 436 Italian Holstein cows which were genotyped for 150K SNPs. Single-SNP and haplotype-based genome-wide association studies were carried out to assess whether the variation in the levels in these biomarkers is under genetic control and to identify the genomic loci involved. Significant associations were found for the plasma levels of ceruloplasmin (Bos taurus chromosome 1—BTA1), paraoxonase (BTA4) and γ-glutamyl transferase (BTA17) in the individual breed analysis that coincided with the position of the genes coding for these proteins, suggesting that their expression is under cis-regulation. A meta-analysis of both breeds identified additional significant associations with paraoxonase on BTA 16 and 26. Finding genetic associations with variations in the levels of these biomarkers suggests that the selection for high or low levels of expression could be achieved rapidly. Whether the level of expression of the biomarkers correlates with the response to stressful situations has yet to be determined.
- Candidate loci