The existence of a relationship between cortisol levels, after an acute stress, and behavioral activities, immunological profile, and production performance in sheep was studied. An initial flock of 30 Comisana ewes was involved in the experiment, and each of the 30 ewes was individually subjected to an isolation test in a novel environment. Subsequently, from the initial flock, 2 groups of 8 Comisana ewes were each retrospectively selected, and the animals were divided, according to their cortisol concentration 10 min after the isolation test, into high cortisol (HC) ewes, having a peak of cortisol concentration >90 ng/mL (average: 119.3 ng/ mL ± 11.8), and low cortisol (LC) ewes having a peak of cortisol concentration <80 ng/mL (average: 52.4 ± 11.8). During the isolation test, the behavior of each animal was video-recorded and behavioral activities were registered. Blood samples were collected before the isolation test, immediately after the test (10 min), and at 60, 120, 300 min, 24 h, and 48 h after the test to evaluate percentages of T-helper (CD4+) and Tcytotoxic (CD8+) cells, CD4+/CD8+ ratio, and IL-1β and IL-6 levels. The ewes were milked for 3 d after the isolation test to determine cortisol levels and IL-1β and IL-6 concentrations in whey. Milk yield was recorded at each milking, and milk samples were analyzed for pH, nutritional parameters, renneting properties, and somatic cell count. During the isolation test, HC ewes exhibited a shorter duration of movement and fewer bleats than LC ewes. The average plasma IL-1β concentration was higher in HC than in LC ewes. The average whey IL-1β and IL-6 concentrations were higher in whey from HC ewes than in LC ewes. A positive correlation emerged between plasma and whey IL-1β concentrations. The average CD4+/CD8+ ratio in blood was lower in HC than in LC ewes. Time from isolation affected the CD4+/CD8+ ratio: at 120 min, the CD4+/ CD8+ ratio increased compared with that at 10 min after isolation and then decreased until 300 min after isolation. On average, ewes with low cortisol concentrations showed higher milk production and lower SCC than ewes with high cortisol concentrations. Results suggest that plasma cortisol concentration is connected to the behavioral response and immune competence of dairy ewes and cytokine concentrations. Both whey IL-1β and IL-6 can be considered reliable indicators of the magnitude of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation. The stress-induced changes in CD4+/ CD8+ ratio are critical for controlling disease incidence and planning appropriate vaccination programs. High reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is also associated with a reduction in milk production and an increased predisposition to develop intramammary inflammatory processes.

Relationship between Cortisol Response to Stress and Behavior, Immune Profile, and Production Performances of Dairy Ewes

CAROPRESE, MARIANGELA;ALBENZIO, MARZIA;SEVI, AGOSTINO,CARMELO
2010

Abstract

The existence of a relationship between cortisol levels, after an acute stress, and behavioral activities, immunological profile, and production performance in sheep was studied. An initial flock of 30 Comisana ewes was involved in the experiment, and each of the 30 ewes was individually subjected to an isolation test in a novel environment. Subsequently, from the initial flock, 2 groups of 8 Comisana ewes were each retrospectively selected, and the animals were divided, according to their cortisol concentration 10 min after the isolation test, into high cortisol (HC) ewes, having a peak of cortisol concentration >90 ng/mL (average: 119.3 ng/ mL ± 11.8), and low cortisol (LC) ewes having a peak of cortisol concentration <80 ng/mL (average: 52.4 ± 11.8). During the isolation test, the behavior of each animal was video-recorded and behavioral activities were registered. Blood samples were collected before the isolation test, immediately after the test (10 min), and at 60, 120, 300 min, 24 h, and 48 h after the test to evaluate percentages of T-helper (CD4+) and Tcytotoxic (CD8+) cells, CD4+/CD8+ ratio, and IL-1β and IL-6 levels. The ewes were milked for 3 d after the isolation test to determine cortisol levels and IL-1β and IL-6 concentrations in whey. Milk yield was recorded at each milking, and milk samples were analyzed for pH, nutritional parameters, renneting properties, and somatic cell count. During the isolation test, HC ewes exhibited a shorter duration of movement and fewer bleats than LC ewes. The average plasma IL-1β concentration was higher in HC than in LC ewes. The average whey IL-1β and IL-6 concentrations were higher in whey from HC ewes than in LC ewes. A positive correlation emerged between plasma and whey IL-1β concentrations. The average CD4+/CD8+ ratio in blood was lower in HC than in LC ewes. Time from isolation affected the CD4+/CD8+ ratio: at 120 min, the CD4+/ CD8+ ratio increased compared with that at 10 min after isolation and then decreased until 300 min after isolation. On average, ewes with low cortisol concentrations showed higher milk production and lower SCC than ewes with high cortisol concentrations. Results suggest that plasma cortisol concentration is connected to the behavioral response and immune competence of dairy ewes and cytokine concentrations. Both whey IL-1β and IL-6 can be considered reliable indicators of the magnitude of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation. The stress-induced changes in CD4+/ CD8+ ratio are critical for controlling disease incidence and planning appropriate vaccination programs. High reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is also associated with a reduction in milk production and an increased predisposition to develop intramammary inflammatory processes.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11369/15198
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