Main content area

Fluctuations of serum cortisol, insulin and non-esterified fatty acid concentrations in growing ewes over the year

Snoj, Tomaz, Jenko, Zlatko, Cebulj-Kadunc, Nina
Irish veterinary journal 2014 v.67 no.1 pp. 77
ambient temperature, autumn, blood serum, climate, cortisol, ewes, free fatty acids, insulin, puberty, sheep breeds, spring, summer, yearlings
BACKGROUND: The physiological levels of endocrine and metabolic parameters in Slovene autochthonous breeds of sheep are not yet well known, nor are the mechanisms of their adaptability and responses to climate and environmental factors. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate fluctuations of cortisol, insulin and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) in growing ewes over an one-year period. Blood samples were collected monthly from 10 yearling Jezersko-Solchava, 10 Bovec and 10 Istrian ewes. Serum cortisol, insulin and NEFA were measured with commercial kits. RESULTS: Mean monthly cortisol values fluctuated with low levels in summer and high levels in autumn. Significant peaked cortisol values of 25.69 ± 6.89, 14.67 ± 2.43 and 21.11 ± 7.25 μg/L in Jezersko-Solchava, Bovec and Istrian breed, respectively, were found in September (Bovec breed) and October (Jezersko-Solchava and Istrian breed). Mean monthly insulin values increased during the observation period. The highest levels of 14.60 ± 3.15, 16.03 ± 5.35 and 12.56 ± 2.52 μIU/mL in Jezersko-Solchava, Bovec and Istrian breed, respectively, were observed in the last sample collection in May. NEFA concentrations were found to be low except in some autumn and spring months. The peak values were observed in March for Jezersko-Solchava and Istrian breed (0.60 ± 0.05 and 0.66 ± 0.10 mmol/L), and in April for Bovec breed (0.71 ± 0.11 mmol/L). CONCLUSIONS: Monthly fluctuations of cortisol, insulin and NEFA were measured in all observed sheep breeds, but between-breed differences in monthly values of examined parameters were insignificant. Significantly increased serum cortisol levels were found in autumn for all breeds and were probably associated with the onset of puberty and low environmental temperature. A gradual increase of insulin level in the examined ewes was in parallel with their growth. Significantly higher NEFA values in spring suggest qualitatively insufficient feed supply during that period.