During the postpartum period there is a high incidence of mastitis in dairy cows. The reason for this increased risk of mastitis still remains unclear. Since leukocytes in colostrum have an important role in preventing the onset of mastitis, we investigated the leukocyte populations, which express CD4, CD8, CD14, CD21 or WC1, in colostrum as well as in blood obtained from 14 Holstein cows. Eight cows developed mastitis within a week after calving and the other 6 remained healthy. The percentage of CD14+ cells in colostrum was significantly lower in mastitic cows than in healthy cows. There were no significant differences in other marker positive cells either in the colostrum or in the blood. The CD14+ cells in colostrum play an important role of defense against invading microorganisms in the mammary glands. Our results suggested that the lower percentage of CD14+ cells in colostrum might predict the incidence of mastitis in the following period.
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