Effects of glyphosate residues and different concentrate feed proportions in dairy cow rations on hepatic gene expression, liver histology and biochemical blood parameters.
Glyphosate (GLY) is worldwide one of the most used active substances in non-selective herbicides. Although livestock might be orally exposed via GLY-contaminated feedstuffs, not much is known about possible hepatotoxic effects of GLY. As hepatic xenobiotic and nutrient metabolism are interlinked, toxic effects of GLY residues might be influenced by hepatic nutrient supply. Therefore, a feeding trial with lactating dairy cows was conducted to investigate effects of GLY-contaminated feedstuffs and different concentrate feed proportions (CFP) in the diets as tool for varying nutrient supply to the liver. For this, 61 German Holstein cows (207 ± 49 days in milk; mean ± standard deviation) were either fed a GLY-contaminated total mixed ration (TMR, GLY groups, mean GLY intake 122.7 μg/kg body weight/day) or control TMR (CON groups, mean GLY intake 1.2 μg/kg body weight/day) for 16 weeks. Additionally, both groups were further split into subgroups fed a lower (LC, 30% on dry matter basis) or higher (HC, 60% on dry matter basis) CFP resulting in groups CONHC (n = 16), CONLC (n = 16), GLYHC (n = 15), GLYLC (n = 14). Blood parameters aspartate aminotransferase, γ-glutamyltransferase, glutamate dehydrogenase, cholesterol, triglyceride, total protein, calcium, phosphorus, acetic acid and urea and histopathological evaluation were not influenced by GLY, whereas all mentioned parameters were at least affected by time, CFP or an interactive manner between time and CFP. Total bilirubin blood concentration was significantly influenced by an interaction between GLY and CFP with temporarily elevated concentrations in GLYHC, whereas the biological relevance remained unclear. Gene expression analysis indicated 167 CFP-responsive genes, while seven genes showed altered expression in GLY groups compared to CON groups. Since expression changes of GLY-responsive genes were low and liver-related blood parameters changed either not at all or only slightly, the tested GLY formulation was considered to have no toxic effects on the liver of dairy cows.