Modulation of the metabolic response using dexamethasone in beef steers vaccinated with a multivalent respiratory vaccine1

Nicole C.Burdick Sanchez, Jeffery A. Carroll, Nathan D. May, Heather D. Hughes, Shelby L. Roberts, Paul R. Broadway, Michael A. Ballou, John T. Richeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Available energy plays a critical role in the initiation and maintenance of an immune response to a pathogen, a process that is further altered by activation of the stress system. This study was designed to determine the effect of an acute vs chronic stress model on the metabolic response to vaccination in naive beef steers. Steers (n = 32; 209 ± 8 kg) were blocked by body weight (BW) and randomly assigned to one of three treatments: 1) Chronic stress (CHR), 0.5 mg/kg BW dexamethasone (DEX) administered i.v. at 1000 h on day 3 to day 0; 2) Acute stress (ACU), 0.5 mg/kg BW DEX administered i.v. at 1000 h on day 0 only; or 3) Control (CON), no DEX. On day-4, steers were fitted with jugular vein catheters and moved into individual bleeding stalls in an environmentally-controlled facility. Blood samples were collected at-74,-50, and-26 h, at 0.5-h intervals from-4 to 6 h, and at 12, 24, 36, 48, and 72 h relative to vaccination with a combination vaccine (Pyramid 5 + Presponse SQ, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA, Duluth, GA) at 1200 h on day 0. Data were analyzed by the MIXED procedure of SAS specific for repeated measures. There was a treatment × time interaction (P < 0.001) for serum glucose concentrations. Specifically, glucose concentrations increased at-50 h in CHR steers and at 1200 h in ACU steers and remained elevated through 72 h postvaccination period in these two treatments compared to CON steers. The change in nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations relative to baseline values was affected by treatment and time (P < 0.001) such that the change in NEFA was greater in CHR (0.06 ± 0.01 mmol/L), followed by CON (-0.01 ± 0.01 mmol/L) and ACU steers (-0.04 ± 0.01 mmol/L). There was a tendency (P = 0.08) for a treatment × time interaction for change in serum NEFA concentrations. Serum urea nitrogen (SUN) was affected by treatment and time (P < 0.001) such that SUN concentrations were greatest in CHR (12.0 ± 0.1 mg/dL) followed by ACU (10.4 ± 0.1 mg/dL) and CON steers (9.6 ± 0.1 mg/dL); however, the treatment × time interaction was not significant (P = 0.12). These data demonstrate that activation of the stress and immune axes using an acute or chronic stress model can increase energy mobilization prior to and following vaccination in naive steers, potentially affecting available energy needed to mount an adequate antibody response to vaccination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-330
Number of pages7
JournalTranslational Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cattle
  • Glucose
  • Immunosuppression
  • Nonesterified fatty acids
  • Urea nitrogen
  • Vaccination


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