Salivary biomarkers to monitor stress due to aggression after weaning in piglets

Damián Escribano, Heng Lun Ko, Qiai Chong, Lourdes Llonch, Xavier Manteca, Pol Llonch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

14 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Elsevier Ltd In this study, the changes of salivary stress biomarkers were contrasted with skin lesions during weaning in piglets. The stress biomarkers evaluated were cortisol (as the reflection of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis), chromogranin A (CgA) and alpha amylase (sAA) (both as the reflection of sympathoadrenal-medullary (SAM) axis). In addition, the accumulation of skin lesions were assessed as proxy measures of aggression. One hundred and two Danbred piglets (51 female and 51 male) from primiparous and multiparous sows were studied from birth to two days post-weaning. Saliva sampling and lesion scoring were performed one day pre-weaning (−1), and one (+1) and two days post-weaning (+2). Our results show that on +1, there was a significant (P <.0001) increase in salivary cortisol, CgA and skin lesions; whereas on +2, there was a significant increase (P <.0001) in salivary CgA and skin lesions. CgA was correlated with the skin lesion score (r = 0.4; P <.0001). sAA did not significantly change at any sampling time. It can be concluded that stress associated to weaning, is associated with changes in salivary CgA and cortisol stress biomarkers and an increase in skin lesions. However, CgA shows higher correlation with skin lesions which indicates that stress due to fighting activates the SAM stress pathway. Therefore, a combination of physiological biomarkers (CgA and cortisol) and proxy of aggression (skin lesions) is preferable than the use of a single biomarker or behavioural indicator when monitoring the social stress response associated to weaning in piglets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-183
JournalResearch in Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Chromogranin A
  • Cortisol
  • Lesion scoring
  • Piglets
  • Stress biomarkers
  • Weaning


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