Age-related changes have been described in the resting levels of cortisol and acute phase proteins in the neonatal pig. This study evaluated the plasma concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-1beta (IL-1β), the acute phase proteins C-reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin (Hp), as well as cortisol during the first week of postnatal life in piglets. The influence of invasive managerial practices such as teeth clipping, ear notching and tail docking on possible age-related changes in the production of these inflammatory mediators was also assessed. A total of 96 piglets were selected from 24 litters at birth, and were randomly assigned to one of four sampling times over the first week of life and one of two treatments. Blood samples were taken at 1, 3, 5 or 7 days of age. Piglets were ear notched, teeth clipped and tail docked (NCD), or were left untreated (CON). Significant effects of age were found in plasma concentrations of TNF-α, SAA, Hp and cortisol (p < 0.001). Concentrations of TNF-α and Hp increased with age, and peak concentrations were found on day 5. SAA and cortisol levels were highest on day 1, decreasing gradually with age. NCD piglets tended to have higher levels of plasma Hp than CON animals (p = 0.066). However, no differences between NCD and CON piglets were found in any other parameter measured. Furthermore, age effects were not affected by these husbandry practices. These results indicate that age-related changes exist in several inflammatory mediators, and suggest that these managerial practices do not result in systemic inflammation in early postnatal life of piglets.

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