Cardinali L, Troisi A, Verstegen JP, et al.
Pregnancy and lactation represent critical periods of canine reproductive life and different hormones are required to maintain homeostasis and the correct energy requirements. The aim of this study was to evaluate leptin, insulin, triiodotyronine (T3), thyroxin (T4) and cortisol serum concentrations to better describe the canine maternal energy metabolism. Twelve Bloodhound bitches that had at least one litter and were considered to be healthy submitted blood samples every 15 days starting from day 0 (ovulation) throughout pregnancy up to the end of lactation (day 120). We found that leptin concentrations increased from day 0 to reach maximum value at day 45 (P < 0.001), decreased at day 60 (P < 0.05) and rose again at day 105 and day 120 (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01 respectively). Insulin concentrations significantly increased during pregnancy peaking at day 60 (P < 0.05). After parturition dropped and reached progressively lower values similar to those at day 0 at the end of lactation. During pregnancy Body Weight was in low correlation with leptin (r = 0.32, P < 0.01) and there was no correlation with insulin (r = 0.13, P > 0.1); moreover, no correlation was found during lactation. T3 concentrations showed a U-shaped trend with a significant reduction at day 75 (P < 0.05). T4 concentrations fluctuated without any significant change (ranging from 27.0 +/- 1.6 nmol/l to 32.1 +/- 1.9 nmol/l). Cortisol concentrations ranged within the reference values (minimal value at day 30 (49.8 +/- 6.3 nm/L) and maximal value at day 45 (72.5 +/- 16.1 nm/L)). Our study states that canine pregnancy and lactation evoke many hormonal changes necessary to mother and fetuses. In particular, this is the first report regarding the pattern of leptin during whole pregnancy and lactation. The present work lays the groundwork for further studies on endocrine homeostatic mechanisms using the dog as a model for human medicine.