Metabolomic changes in polyunsaturated fatty acids and eicosanoids as diagnostic biomarkers in Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP)-inoculated Holstein–Friesian heifers

Emma N. Taylor, Manfred Beckmann, Glyn Hewinson, David Rooke, Luis A. J. Mur*, Ad P. Koets*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative organism of Johne’s disease, a chronic granulomatous enteritis of ruminants. We have previously used naturally MAP-infected heifer calves to document metabolomic changes occurring in MAP infections. Herein, we used experimentally MAP-inoculated heifer calves to identify biomarkers for MAP infections. At 2-weeks of age, 20 Holstein–Friesian (HF) calves were experimentally inoculated with MAP. These calves, along with 20 control calves, were sampled biweekly up to 13-months of age and then monthly up to 19-months of age. Sera were assessed using flow infusion electrospray high-resolution mass spectrometry (FIE-HRMS) on a Q Exactive hybrid quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer for high throughput, sensitive, non-targeted metabolite fingerprinting. Partial least squares-discriminate analysis (PLS-DA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) discriminated between MAP-inoculated and control heifer calves. Out of 34 identified metabolites, six fatty acyls were able to differentiate between experimental groups throughout the study, including 8, 11, 14-eicosatrienoic acid and cis-8, 11, 14, 17-eicosatetraenoic acid which were also detected in our previous study and so further suggested their value as biomarkers for MAP infection. Pathway analysis highlighted the role of the alpha-linoleic acid and linoleic acid metabolism. Within these pathways, two broad types of response, with a rapid increase in some saturated fatty acids and some n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and later n-6 PUFAs, became predominant. This could indicate an initial anti-inflammatory colonisation phase, followed by an inflammatory phase. This study demonstrates the validity of the metabolomic approach in studying MAP infections. Nevertheless, further work is required to define further key events, particularly at a cell-specific level.
Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Number of pages13
JournalVeterinary Research
Issue number1
Early online date02 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 02 Sept 2022


  • Research Article
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis
  • metabolomics
  • alpha-linoleic acid and linoleic acid metabolism
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • eicosanoids
  • Cattle Diseases/microbiology
  • Eicosanoids
  • Paratuberculosis/diagnosis
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Biomarkers
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis/physiology
  • Female


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