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Peripheral blood markers of sepsis in foals born from mares with experimentally ascending placentitis
  1. Luciana de Araujo Borba1,
  2. Carlos Eduardo Wayne Nogueira1,
  3. Fábio Raphael Pascoti Bruhn2,
  4. Gabriela Castro da Silva1,
  5. Lorena Soares Feijó1,
  6. Igor F. Canisso3 and
  7. Bruna da Rosa Curcio1
  1. 1 Departamento de Clínicas Veterinária, Faculdade de Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil
  2. 2 Departamento de Medicina Veterinária Preventiva, Faculdade de Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil
  3. 3 Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Bruna da Rosa Curcio, Clínicas Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas 96160-000, Brazil; curciobruna{at}


Background Neonatal sepsis is a leading cause of neonatal death during the first-week postfoaling. Despite recent advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis in the newborn foal, the non-specific clinical signs and subtle nature of this disease may result in delayed diagnosis until severe progression of the disease; thus, early detection of sepsis remains critical for a favourable outcome. This study aimed to identify early blood markers as predictive of sepsis on foals.

Methods Thirty-five foals were allocated into three groups: healthy control foals (n=7) and foals born from mares with placentitis: septic foals (n=9) and non-septic foals (n=19). Blood samples were obtained immediately after foaling and at 12, 24 and 48 hours. All samples were assessed for glucose, lactate, triglycerides, total cholesterol, urea, creatinine, total solids, fibrinogen, gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), serum amyloid A (SAA) and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) concentrations.

Results At foaling, glucose and GGT concentrations were lower in septic foals (P<0.001). Of interest, SAA, AFP, creatinine and total cholesterol were higher in septic foals at parturition (P<0.05). At 12 hours, lactate, triglycerides and total cholesterol concentrations were higher in septic foals. When evaluated at 24 and 48 hours, higher concentrations of SAA and AFP were found in placentitis foals than in the control group.

Conclusions Total cholesterol and lactate appear to be suitable markers for sepsis during the first 24 hours postpartum. Septic foals displayed altered energy metabolisms as determined by increased triglycerides and cholesterol concentrations, hypoglycaemia at birth and reduced activity of the GGT and increased lactate and urea concentrations. Sepsis was associated with high concentrations of SAA and AFP.

  • serum amyloid A
  • alpha-fetoprotein
  • blood chemistry
  • energy metabolism
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  • Presented at Different excerpts of this manuscript were orally presented as an abstract at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Theriogenology, Fort Collins, August 2–5, 2017.

  • Funding The funding agencies CAPES and CNPq are acknowledged for providing scholarships to graduate students (LAB, GCS and LSF) and postdoctoral fellowship (BRC, Estágio Sênior no Exterior Processo CAPES#99999.005570/2015-08). Funds provided by the Universidade Federal de Pelotas and by Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The authors would like to thank Dr Robyn Ellerbrock and Ruth Patten for their providential assistance in editing this manuscript and English spelling check.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval All procedures carried out were approved by the Ethical Committee on Animal Experimentation of the Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPel) (#4750, October 5, 2010).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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