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Determining adrenocortical activity as a measure of stress in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) based on faecal analysis

Ganswindt A., Tordiffe A.S.W., Stam E., Howitt M.J., Jori F.. 2012. African Zoology, 47 (2) : p. 262-269.

DOI: 10.3377/004.047.0211

Little is known about the levels of stress experienced by African buffalos affected by injury, disease, or socio-ecological and anthropogenic factors. To be able to start filling this gap, we examined the suitability of two 11-oxoaetiocholanolone enzyme-immunoassays (EIAs) detecting 11,17 dioxoandrostanes (11,17-DOA) as well as faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGMs) with a 5_-3_-ol-11-one structure (3_,11oxo-CM), respectively, for monitoring stress-related physiological responses in African buffalo. An adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) challenge in one male and one female housed at Mokopane Biodiversity Conservation Centre, South Africa, showed a threefold increase in circulating cortisol levels in a sample taken 40 min post-injection. Corresponding 11,17-DOA levels increased tenfold (female) and 15-fold (male) above baseline, and 3_,11oxo-CM concentrations increased ninefold (female) and 12-fold (male) above pre-injection levels, indicating that both EIAs are suitable for measuring FGMs in African buffalo.In addition, 11,17-DOA levels monitored during the adaptation process of individual housing revealed an up to 14-fold elevation in FGMs. Storage of faeces at ambient temperature for up to 16 h post-defecation resulted in an significant increase in 11,17-DOA levels 2 h after defecation. Finally, higher individual baseline 11,17-DOA concentrations were found in samples defecated overnight, indicating a possible diurnal effect in excretion of FGMs in African buffalo.

Mots-clés : buffle africain; stress; physiologie animale; surrénale; hormone corticosurrénale; hormone adrénocorticotrope; glucocorticoïde; métabolite; fèces; sexe; dégradation; virus des animaux; transmission des maladies; afrique du sud

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