Immunophenotyping the Innate Immunity of Cattle

Graph mapping Nitric Oxide production by macrophages in response to in vitro treatment with either E. coli or S. aureus.

Figure 1: Graphic mapping Nitric Oxide production by macrophages in response to in vitro treatment with either E. coli or S. aureus.


Researchers at the University of Guelph have developed a method to evaluate the innate immune capability of cattle by measuring the bactericidal performance of their macrophages in response to common bovine pathogens. This in vitro serum free test (immunophenotyping) measures the ability of monocyte derived macrophages to produce and express nitric oxide (oxidative burst) used by macrophages during non-adaptive inflammatory immune interactions with E coli and S. aureus. Macrophage performance is highly heritable (0.78) and linked to 13 transcription factors. Animals can easily be categorized into high or low responders which are strongly linked to the host genetics. Test results are useful for creating ranked order phenotypes in a breeding selection program or for researching genetic and epigenetic effects.

Advantages and Applications

  • Identification of high and low performance animals
  • Prevention of poor performing breeding pairs
  • Genomic research tool in long term studies
  • Combine with additional immunophenotyping markers for unique environmental conditions
  • Breeding selection and improvement tool in bovine dairy and beef genetics industry


Research Status: Ph.D. and research project completed
Development Status: Laboratory tests at TRL-3.
Patent Status: Pending – PCT filed July 2020: National phase entry Jan 2022
License Status: Available for licensing


David Hobson, DVM, DVSc, PEng, Manager, Technology Transfer & Entrepreneurship, 519-824-4120 Ext. 58859


PCT/CA2020/050997 Patent Application, 17 July 2020, Bovine monocyte-derived macrophage in culture system and methods for measuring innate immunity; 97

Emam et al., 2019. The effect of host genetics on in vitro performance of bovine monocyte-derived macrophages, Journal of Dairy Science, 102:9107.

Emam et al., 2020. Transcriptomic profiles of monocyte-derived macrophages in response to Escherichia coli is associated with the host genetics, Nature Scientific Reports 10:271.