Use of nCounter mRNA profiling to identify at-arrival gene expression patterns for predicting bovine respiratory disease in beef cattle

Matthew A. Scott, Amelia R. Woolums, Cyprianna E. Swiderski, Alexis C. Thompson, Andy D. Perkins, Bindu Nanduri, Brandi B. Karisch, Dan R. Goehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Transcriptomics has identified at-arrival differentially expressed genes associated with bovine respiratory disease (BRD) development; however, their use as prediction molecules necessitates further evaluation. Therefore, we aimed to selectively analyze and corroborate at-arrival mRNA expression from multiple independent populations of beef cattle. In a nested case-control study, we evaluated the expression of 56 mRNA molecules from at-arrival blood samples of 234 cattle across seven populations via NanoString nCounter gene expression profiling. Analysis of mRNA was performed with nSolver Advanced Analysis software (p < 0.05), comparing cattle groups based on the diagnosis of clinical BRD within 28 days of facility arrival (n = 115 Healthy; n = 119 BRD); BRD was further stratified for severity based on frequency of treatment and/or mortality (Treated_1, n = 89; Treated_2+, n = 30). Gene expression homogeneity of variance, receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve, and decision tree analyses were performed between severity cohorts. Results: Increased expression of mRNAs involved in specialized pro-resolving mediator synthesis (ALOX15, HPGD), leukocyte differentiation (LOC100297044, GCSAML, KLF17), and antimicrobial peptide production (CATHL3, GZMB, LTF) were identified in Healthy cattle. BRD cattle possessed increased expression of CFB, and mRNA related to granulocytic processes (DSG1, LRG1, MCF2L) and type-I interferon activity (HERC6, IFI6, ISG15, MX1). Healthy and Treated_1 cattle were similar in terms of gene expression, while Treated_2+ cattle were the most distinct. ROC cutoffs were used to generate an at-arrival treatment decision tree, which classified 90% of Treated_2+ individuals. Conclusions: Increased expression of complement factor B, pro-inflammatory, and type I interferon-associated mRNA hallmark the at-arrival expression patterns of cattle that develop severe clinical BRD. Here, we corroborate at-arrival mRNA markers identified in previous transcriptome studies and generate a prediction model to be evaluated in future studies. Further research is necessary to evaluate these expression patterns in a prospective manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number77
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Beef cattle
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biomarkers
  • Bovine respiratory disease
  • Disease prediction
  • Gene expression
  • Host immunology
  • Infectious disease
  • NanoString
  • mRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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