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Effect of Escherichia coli infection of the bovine uterus from the whole animal to the cell*

  • E. J. Williams (a1), S. Herath (a1), G. C. W. England (a2), H. Dobson (a3), C. E. Bryant (a4) and I. M. Sheldon (a1)...


Following parturition, contamination of the uterine lumen by bacteria is ubiquitous, and uterine health is impaired in cattle because infection persists in 10% to 15% of animals as endometritis. Endometritis causes infertility for the duration of infection, and subfertility persists even after apparent successful resolution of the disease. Escherichia coli is the pathogenic bacterium most frequently isolated from the post partum uterus, and is associated with increased concentrations of peripheral plasma acute phase proteins and fetid vaginal mucus. The presence of E. coli is also associated with slower growth of the first post partum dominant follicle and perturbed oestradiol secretion. Furthermore, in animals that ovulate the first dominant follicle, the corpus luteum is smaller and secretes less progesterone. The endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which is released from E.coli, can pass from the uterine lumen to the peripheral circulation and LPS concentrations are increased in cows with uterine infection. Infusion of E. coli LPS into the uterine lumen suppresses the pre-ovulatory luteinising hormone surge and disrupts ovulation in heifers. In vitro, endometrial explants produce prostaglandins in response to LPS. Addition of LPS or E. coli to stromal or epithelial cells increases cyclooxygenase-2 mRNA expression, and stimulates the production of prostaglandin E2 and prostaglandin F . Furthermore, uterine and ovarian cells express mRNA of the molecules required for recognition of LPS, Toll-like receptor-4 and CD14. In summary, E. coli is a common cause of infertility involving the perturbation of the hypothalamus, pituitary and ovary in dairy cows.


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This invited paper was presented at BSAS meeting ‘Fertility in Dairy Cows – bridging the gaps’ 30-31 August 2007, Liverpool Hope University.



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Effect of Escherichia coli infection of the bovine uterus from the whole animal to the cell*

  • E. J. Williams (a1), S. Herath (a1), G. C. W. England (a2), H. Dobson (a3), C. E. Bryant (a4) and I. M. Sheldon (a1)...


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