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J Dairy Sci. 1993 Sep;76(9):2795-803.

Role of vitamin E and selenium in host defense against mastitis.

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Department of Dairy Science, Ohio State University, Wooster 44691.


Vitamin E and Se are essential nutrients that share common biological activities. Deficiencies in either of these micronutrients have been related in increased incidence and severity of mastitis. A known physiological consequence of alpha-tocopherol or Se deficiency is reduced neutrophil activity. Vitamin E and the Se-containing enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, and antioxidants that protect neutrophils from the destructive action of toxic oxygen molecules necessary for intracellular kill of ingested pathogens. Dietary supplementation of cattle with Se results in a more rapid neutrophil influx into milk following intramammary bacterial challenge and increased intracellular kill of ingested bacteria by neutrophils. Dietary supplementation of early lactation cows with vitamin E results in increased bactericidal activity by bovine blood neutrophils. Recently completed trials have shown that subcutaneous injections of vitamin E approximately 10 and 5 d prior to calving successfully elevated neutrophil alpha-tocopherol concentrations during the periparturient period and negated the suppressed intracellular kill of bacteria by neutrophils that is commonly observed at calving.

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