Salivary biomarkers were studied in 17 healthy Large White sows from early gestation to the end of lactation. Saliva samples were obtained at 34 ± 3 days from insemination (G30), 24 ± 4 days before farrowing (G90), within the first 24 h after farrowing (L1) and at the end of a lactation period of 21 days (L21). The measurements in saliva included stress-related biomarkers (cortisol, chromogranin A, α-amylase, cholinesterase [BChE] and lipase [Lip]), inflammatory biomarkers (adenosine deaminase isoenzymes 1 [ADA1] and 2 [ADA2], and haptoglobin [Hp]) and oxidative stress biomarkers (cupric reducing antioxidant capacity, trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity, ferric reducing ability, uric acid, advanced oxidation protein products [AOPP] and hydrogen peroxide [H2O2]), as well as routine biochemistry analytes (aspartate aminotransferase [AST], alkaline phosphatase [ALP], γ-glutamine transferase [GGT], lactate dehydrogenase [LDH], creatine kinase [CK], urea, creatinine, triglycerides, lactate, calcium and phosphorus).
The main changes were observed at farrowing, with increases in biomarkers of stress (cortisol and BChE), inflammation (ADA isoenzymes and Hp) and oxidative stress (AOPP and H2O2), as well as muscle and hepatic enzymes (CK, AST, ALP, GGT and LDH). Lactate and triglycerides increased at the end of gestation and remained at high concentrations until the end of lactation. Lip was higher in gestation than at lactation. Thus, changes in biomarkers of stress, immune function, oxidative stress, hepatic and muscle integrity, and energy mobilization occur in sow saliva during pregnancy, farrowing and lactation. These changes, caused by physiological conditions, should be taken into consideration when these biomarkers are used for the evaluation of sow health and welfare.