The rate of uterine involution postpartum was monitored in 13 suckling mule ewes by using radio-opaque markers and radiography, and each ewe was also monitored for intrauterine bacterial contamination during the first week, using a sterile guarded swab. Peripheral plasma or serum concentrations of haptoglobin, seromucoid, ceruloplasmin and 15-keto-13,14-dihydro-prostaglandin F2α (PGFM) were measured up to six weeks postpartum. The maximum reduction in the length of the uterine tody and in the diameters of the homs occurred by 28 days postpartum, except in one ewe in which the size of the uterus continued to decrease for 42 days. Four ewes were positive for intrauterine bacterial contamination; Escheichia coli, clostridial species, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus uberis and Enterococcus species were isolated in pure or mixed culture. The presence of intrauterine bacteria did not affect the time for the completion of uterine involution. No bacteria were isolated from the ewe in which involution was delayed, but it had a different acute phase protein response and was therefore excluded from further analyses. In the remaining 12 ewes the mean postpartum haptoglobin response increased, with peak concentrations occurring on day 1, and decreased slowly as uterine involution progressed, but the four contaminated ewes had a significantly greater response. There was no difference between the prepartum and postpartum concentrations of seromucoid in the eight sterile ewes, but significant increases were observed in the contaminated group; the concentrations of ceruloplasmin did not vary in either group. The concentrations of PGFM were higher during the early postpartum period in the ewes with contaminated uteri.
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