Reproduction 1

Research Title:


Tutor: Maria Cristina VERONESI


Contact details: 

Maria Cristina Veronesi DVM, PhD, dipl ECAR
Università degli Studi di Milano
Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria
via Celoria, 10 - 20133 Milano
tel: (+39) 0250318149; fax: (+39) 0250318148
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State of the art 

Several small animals reproduction researches were previously based on blood samples collection, sometimes repeated that, at present, must be limited at the strict essential, from an ethical and animal welfare perspective. In addition, in most cases, the investigations aimed to depict hormonal or metabolic changes occurring in a long time-frame period, so that some biological specimens, such as blood, plasma and serum, do not represent the best matrices for the purpose. In humans, and also in some wild and domestic animal species, new matrices collected without invasiveness were proved to be suitable as alternative specimens to the blood, especially for long-term investigations of hormones and metabolites changes. Among those matrices, the hair has been recognized as a suitable specimen for several long term investigations. More recently, also the claws were proved to be useful for the same purpose and, in some cases, also more practical as compared to the hair. 



The availability of suitable methods for the non invasive investigation in reproduction and neonatology, in the respect of ethics and animal welfare, is of interests in veterinary medicine, and especially in small animals medicine. Some reproductive phases, such as pregnancy and the perinatal period are both characterized by many dynamic changes, occurring along a relatively long period; every disturbance of both pregnant females, post parturient mothers and offspring must be limited as much as possible. Therefore, because several aspects in small animals reproduction and neonatology still deserve scientific interest and need to be clarified, the research projects must be designed avoiding blood serial collection and, on the opposite, addressed to using new, alternative, matrices, collectable without invasiveness in the respect of animal welfare.


Aims of the project


The project is designed to evaluate the concentrations and changes of some hormones and metabolites in the hair and claws, as a retrospective picture of physiological changes related to pregnancy and lactation, as well as the perinatal development. The project will encompass three main topics following reported:

1) Hormonal and metabolic changes occurring from the time of mating to the end of weaning in bitches, evaluated by hair samples collection;

2) Perinatal hormonal and metabolic changes occurring in puppies and kittens, evaluated by claws serial collection;

3) Hormonal and metabolic changes occurring around the time of puberty in female and male dogs and cats, evaluated by hair serial samples collection.

The study will further demonstrate the usefulness of hair and claws as new matrices for the non invasive study of long-term hormonal and metabolic changes occurring during some physiological phases in small animals reproduction and neonatology. The definition of the normal hormonal and metabolic profiles would provide new reference for the use of the same matrices also as diagnostic or prognostic indicators of well-being and/or diseases. The study will be part of the European College of Animal Reproduction (ECAR) residency training program for the final approvation to be admitted to the examinations to obtain the European Diploma, and assumes a continuous cooperation with the national and international research groups involved in the project.


Recent publications of the tutor in the field


1. Veronesi MC, Comin A, Meloni T, Faustini M, Rota A, Prandi A (2015)

Coat and claws as new matrices for non invasive long-term cortisol assessment in dogs from birth up to 30 days of age

Theriogenology 84(5):791-796.

2. Bolis B, Peric T, Veronesi MC, Faustini M, Rota A, Montillo M (2015)

Hair dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) concentrations in newborn dogs.

Proceedings 18th EVSSAR Congress, Hannover,  11-12 September, pg 124.

3. Montillo M, Comin A, Corazzin M, Peric T,Faustini M, Veronesi MC, Valentini S, Bustaffa M, Prandi A (2014)

The Effect of Temperature, Rainfall, and Light Conditions on Hair Cortisol Concentrations in Newborn Foals

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 34:774-778.

4. Comin A, Peric T, Corazzin M, Veronesi MC, Meloni T, Zufferli V, Cornacchia G, Prandi A (2013)

Hair cortisol as a marker of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation in Friesian dairy cows clinically or physiologically compromised

Livestock Science 152: 36–41.

5. Comin A, Veronesi MC, Montillo M, Faustini M, Valentini S, Cairoli F, Prandi A (2012)

Hair cortisol level as a retrospective marker of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in horse foals

The Veterinary Journal, 194(1): 131-132.