Oxytocin alters leukogram composition in Bos indicus cattle exposed to short-duration transportation

Wagner, B.K., Martin, D.G., Rudd, D.M., and Parker, A.J. (2021) Oxytocin alters leukogram composition in Bos indicus cattle exposed to short-duration transportation. Animal Production Science, 61 (13). pp. 1315-1320.

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Context: Transportation, a common practice in cattle production, activates the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, ultimately increasing glucocorticoids and altering the cellular immune system in cattle. Oxytocin attenuates the HPA axis in mammals. Intra-nasal oxytocin supplementation has been investigated in human and rodent models, revealing anxiolytic effects. The aim of this study was to assess the ability of exogenous oxytocin to mitigate stress and inflammatory responses in transported cattle.

Aims: We hypothesised that Bos indicus cattle treated with intra-nasal oxytocin would demonstrate more stable cortisol and inflammatory responses when subjected to handling and 6 h of road transportation compared with cattle treated with intra-nasal saline.

Methods: Thirty, Bos indicus steers were allocated to one of three treatments: (1) intra-nasal sterile saline and held in the yard for 6 h (S-NT; n = 10), (2) intra-nasal sterile saline and transported for 6 h (S-T; n = 10), and (3) intra-nasal oxytocin (0.3 IU/kg bodyweight) and transported for 6 h (OXT-T; n = 10). Blood was collected at 0, 6, 48, and 72 h and analysed for haematological parameters, cortisol, glucose and lactate.

Key results: A treatment × time effect (P < 0.05) was detected for lymphocytes and basophils, such that oxytocin helped maintain baseline counts. A treatment × time effect was detected for neutrophils and eosinophils such that counts were greater and lesser, respectively, directly following transport (P < 0.01) for transported treatments. Total leukocyte counts were not different between treatments (P = 0.96). No differences were observed between treatments or over time for plasma cortisol concentration (P = 0.46). A treatment × time interaction (P < 0.03) was detected for bodyweight such that transportation, independent of intra-nasal treatment, resulted in increased weight loss compared with the non-transported treatment.

Conclusion: Oxytocin altered circulating basophils in Bos indicus cattle exposed to short-duration transport. Although no effect on the HPA axis was detected via changes in cortisol concentration, road transport induced some signs of an acute inflammatory response directly following transportation.

Implications: Providing exogenous oxytocin improved the maintenance and recovery of some cellular immune system parameters in Bos indicus steers subject to short duration transport and more research is needed to explicate a more comprehensive understanding of such effects.

Item ID: 69035
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1836-5787
Keywords: acute inflammatory response, Bos indicus, cattle, transport, transportation, HPA axis, hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, cortisol, neutrophilia, anxiolytic, lymphopenia, oxytocin, immune protection, stress response
Copyright Information: © CSIRO 2021
Funders: Ohio University (OU)
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2021 23:43
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300902 Veterinary anatomy and physiology @ 50%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3003 Animal production > 300302 Animal management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1004 Livestock raising > 100401 Beef cattle @ 100%
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