Stressors such as lack of access to feed, hot temperatures, transportation, and pen changes can cause impairment of ruminal and intestinal barrier function, also known as "leaky gut". Despite the known benefits of some nutritional approaches during periods of stress, little is understood regarding the underlying mechanisms, especially in dairy cows. We evaluated the effect of feeding a Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product (SCFP; NutriTek, Diamond V, Cedar Rapids, IA) on the ileal transcriptome in response to feed restriction (FR), an established model to induce intestinal barrier dysfunction. Multiparous cows [97.1 ± 7.6 days in milk (DIM); n = 5/group] fed a control diet or control plus 19 g/d SCFP for 9 wk were subjected to an FR challenge for 5 d during which they were fed 40% of their ad libitum intake from the 7 d before FR. All cows were slaughtered at the end of FR, and ileal scrapping RNA was used for RNAseq (NovaSeq 6000, 100 bp read length). Statistical analysis was performed in R and bioinformatics using the KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) and GO databases. One thousand six hundred and ninety-six differentially expressed genes (DEG; FDR-adjusted P ≤ 0.10) were detected in SCFP vs. control, with 451 upregulated and 1,245 downregulated. "Mucin type O-glycan biosynthesis"was the top downregulated KEGG pathway due to downregulation of genes catalyzing glycosylation of mucins (GCNT3, GALNT5, B3GNT3, GALNT18, and GALNT14). An overall downregulation of cell and tissue structure genes (e.g., extracellular matrix proteins) associated with collagen (COL6A1, COL1A1, COL4A1, COL1A2, and COL6A2), laminin (LAMB2), and integrins (ITGA8, ITGA2, and ITGA5) also were detected with SCFP. A subset of DEG enriched in the GO term "extracellular exosome"and "extracellular space". Chemokines within "Cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction pathways"such as CCL16, CCL21, CCL14, CXCL12, and CXCL14 were downregulated by SCFP. The "Glutathione metabolism"pathway was upregulated by SCFP, including GSTA1 and RRM2B among the top upregulated genes, and GSTM1 and GPX8 as top downregulated genes. There were 9 homeobox transcription factors among the top 50 predicted transcription factors using the RNAseq DEG dataset, underscoring the importance of cell differentiation as a potential target of dietary SCFP. Taken together, SCFP downregulated immune-, ECM-, and mucin synthesis-related genes during FR. Homeobox transcription factors appear important for the transcriptional response of SCFP.
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