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Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Apr;143(4):391-6. Epub 2006 Feb 14.

Free radicals, lipid peroxidation and the antioxidant system in the blood of cows and newborn calves around calving.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Szent István University, István u. 2, Budapest, H-1078, Hungary.


The oxidative stress of birth in cattle (Bos taurus) was evaluated by measuring steady state concentration of free radicals in whole blood, rate of lipid peroxidation and activity of antioxidant enzymes in erythrocytes, antioxidant capacity of blood plasma in 14 calves at birth and four times after birth until 3 weeks of age and also in their mothers at calving. The same parameters were also measured in 58 dairy cows before calving, at parturition and after calving. Free radical concentration in the blood of newborn calves was higher than in cows confirming that birth means oxidative stress for calves. Red blood cell malondialdehyde in calves was the highest at birth and following the first solid feed intake at the third week. Superoxide dismutase activity increased in calves during the first three weeks of life. Ferric reducing ability of plasma was higher in calves at birth than in cows and decreased thereafter. Higher superoxide dismutase activity in red blood cells and lower ferric reducing ability of plasma in dairy cows was found at calving compared to the average of all pre- and post-calving results. We conclude that the blood of newborn calves is well prepared to deal with the oxidative stress of birth, and that such a stress is present even when some fingerprint markers of redox imbalance show no apparent alterations. Stress of calving has minor effects on the antioxidant system of cows.

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