Invited review: Systematic review of diagnostic tests for reproductive-tract infection and inflammation in dairy cows.
In contrast to endometritis, now diagnosed by cytological examination, the effect of endocervical inflammation on reproductive performance has been inadequately investigated. In this study, endocervical and endometrial cytological specimens were collected from 168 Holstein cows between 21 and 60 days in milk (DIM) to investigate the prevalence of endocervical inflammation and effect on days to conception. Statistical analyses were stratified based on DIM at examination (<35 vs. ≥35 DIM). Endocervical inflammation with ≥5% neutrophils before 35 DIM (disregarding the level of endometrial inflammation) was associated with decreased hazard of pregnancy within 300 DIM (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.4; 95% confidence interval: 0.3-0.8). A decrease in hazard of pregnancy was observed when >6% neutrophils were counted in endometrial smears (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.4; 95% confidence interval: 0.2-0.7). The study suggested an additive effect of combined endocervical and endometrial inflammation on the hazard of pregnancy within 300 DIM. Using the thresholds of 5% neutrophils for the cervix and 6% neutrophils for the uterus, 11% of the cows examined before 35 DIM presented cervicitis only, 13% were affected by endometritis only, and 32% suffered from both endometrial and endocervical inflammation. The presence (absence) of cervicitis was not indicative of the presence (absence) of endometritis. This study showed that in addition to uterine inflammation, endocervical inflammation in early lactation affects conception. Thus, the global evaluation of genital tract health may be more beneficial for reproductive performance than that of endometrial inflammation.