Working Paper Review Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed

Preventing Postpartum Uterine Disease in Dairy Cattle Depends on Avoiding, Tolerating and Resisting Pathogenic Bacteria

Version 1 : Received: 9 August 2019 / Approved: 12 August 2019 / Online: 12 August 2019 (11:48:20 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 14 January 2020 / Approved: 15 January 2020 / Online: 15 January 2020 (12:06:20 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.


Up to forty percent of dairy cows develop metritis or endometritis when pathogenic bacteria infect the uterus after parturition. However, resilient cows remain healthy even when exposed to the same pathogens. Here, we provide a perspective on the mechanisms that dairy cows use to prevent postpartum uterine disease. We suggest that resilient cows prevent the development of uterine disease using the three complimentary defensive strategies of avoiding, tolerating and resisting infection with pathogenic bacteria. Avoidance maintains health by limiting the exposure to pathogens. Avoidance mechanisms include intrinsic behaviors to reduce the risk of infection by avoiding pathogens or infected animals, perhaps signaled by the fetid odor of uterine disease. Tolerance improves health by limiting the tissue damage caused by the pathogens. Tolerance mechanisms include neutralizing bacterial toxins, protecting cells against damage, enhancing tissue repair, and reprogramming metabolism. Resistance improves health by limiting the pathogen burden. Resistance mechanisms include inflammation driven by innate immunity and adaptive immunity, with the aim of killing and eliminating pathogenic bacteria. Farmers can also help cows prevent the development of postpartum uterine disease by avoiding trauma to the genital tract, reducing stress, and feeding animals appropriately during the transition period. Understanding the mechanisms of avoidance, tolerance and resistance to pathogens will inform strategies to generate resilient animals and prevent uterine disease.


Bovine; Uterus; Metritis; Endometritis; Resilience


Biology and Life Sciences, Immunology and Microbiology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 15 January 2020
Commenter: Iain Martin Sheldon
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: Updated to: Accepted version of paper.
+ Respond to this comment

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
* All users must log in before leaving a comment
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 1
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.