Abstract Background The objective assessment of animal stress and welfare requires proper laboratory biomarkers. In this work, we have analyzed the changes in serum composition in gilts after switching their housing, from pen to individual stalls, which is generally accepted to cause animal discomfort. Results Blood and saliva samples were collected a day before and up to four days after changing the housing system. Biochemical analyses showed adaptive changes in lipid and protein metabolism after the housing switch, whereas cortisol and muscular markers showed a large variability between animals. 2D-DIGE and iTRAQ proteomic approaches revealed variations in serum protein composition after changing housing and diet of gilts. Both techniques showed alterations in two main homeostatic mechanisms: the innate immune and redox systems. The acute phase proteins haptoglobin, apolipoprotein A-I and Îą1-antichymotrypsin 3, and the antioxidant enzyme peroxiredoxin 2 were found differentially expressed by 2D-DIGE. Other proteins related to the innate immune system, including lactotransferrin, protegrin 3 and galectin 1 were also identified by iTRAQ, as well as oxidative stress enzymes such as peroxiredoxin 2 and glutathione peroxidase 3. Proteomics also revealed the decrease of apolipoproteins, and the presence of intracellular proteins in serum, which may indicate physical injury to tissues. Conclusions Housing of gilts in individual stalls and diet change increase lipid and protein catabolism, oxidative stress, activate the innate immune system and cause a certain degree of tissue damage. We propose that valuable assays for stress assessment in gilts may be based on a score composed by a combination of salivary cortisol, lipid metabolites, innate immunity and oxidative stress markers and intracellular proteins.
|Date made available||25 Nov 2016|