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Jasmine Fusi graduated in Veterinary Medicine in 2017 with a thesis entitled “Metronomic cyclophosphamide and chemo-switch protocols for the adjuvant therapy of canine appendicular osteosarcoma”. During her last year of study she started to become interested about veterinary reproduction. After graduation, she presented her preliminary results about the use of claws as non-invasive matrices in puppies at the LXXI SISVET Congress in Naples, at the 21st Annual ESDAR conference in Bern and at the Workshop on Gonadal Function, Gamete Interaction and Pregnancy (GGP) in Giessen. Her main interest is small animal reproduction, with primary focus on small animal neonatology.

Maria Cristina Veronesi, DVM (110/110 cum laude), PhD, ECAR dipl, Full Prof. Teacher of several academic and post graduate courses about domestic animals reproduction and neonatology, her research interest cover all the fields of domestic animals reproduction, mainly focused on domestic animals neonatology, and recently addressed to the use of alternative matrices for the study of small animals perinatology. Author of more than 160 publications on International peer-reviewed journals, International and National congresses, and co-author of the book entitled: “Veterinary Neonatology”, she is active as clinician at the Division of Veterinary Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Veterinary Medicine, Milan, Italy from 1998. 


Title: Reproduction and perinatology investigated using non-invasive matrices in companion animals

The full study of small animal reproduction and perinatology received, in the past, lower scientific interest in comparison to large animals, mostly because of the diverse economic impact. Recently, with the spread of a new concern, that is animal welfare, additional limitations to the basic studies on small animal reproduction and perinatology, were raised. The studies about reproduction and perinatology imply, very often, to monitor changes occurring in relatively long time intervals, such as puberty, pregnancy, post-partum, and perinatology. In the past the traditional matrix used for monitoring hormonal and metabolic changes was mainly represented by the blood. However, this matrix has some issues in its usefulness. Firstly, repeated blood samplings does not fit well with the purpose of animal welfare and could be life-threatening in newborns. Secondly, blood provides only punctual information, so that there is the need of repeated collections. Therefore, for the study of reproduction and perinatology, there is the necessity of matrices collectable without invasiveness that can provide long-time retrospective information (like claws and hair). Indeed, matrices providing punctual concentrations, even if non-invasive (e.g. urine and feces), are less suitable for this purpose. Instead, using hair and claws, collectable without invasiveness, allows to monitor the concentration of some metabolites and hormones over a prolonged time-window, reducing the number of samplings; this is interesting from a welfare point of view, both in human and in veterinary medicine.

The availability of suitable methods for the non-invasive study of reproduction and perinatology is a current topic in small animal veterinary medicine, when every disturbance at pregnant (and post parturient) females and offspring must be avoided. Thus, hair seems to be the perfect matrix to perform this task in an adult, like for example a pregnant bitch, because shaving coat is a simple way of collection and brings no risks in a fully-grown animal (Fig 1). For what regarding claws, instead, they seem to be the ideal matrix to investigate small animal newborns (Fig 2), inasmuch they could be damaged by the shaving of the coat, both directly or indirectly, worsening their quality of life.

Currently, improving the scientific knowledge about some aspects of reproduction and particularly regarding perinatology is a necessity: given what stated before, indeed, there is a lack of information about those topics. This fact is in part responsible for the great perinatal loss today still observable, that accounts about 30%.

This project is aimed to evaluate the concentrations and related variations of some hormones and metabolic parameters in hair and claws, depicting a retrospective scheme of physiological changes related to puberty, pregnancy, post-partum, and the perinatal period.

The project is therefore designed to:

1)      Monitor hormonal and metabolic changes around the time of puberty in small animals of both sexes using both claws and hair.

2)      Assess hormonal and metabolic hair changes occurring during pregnancy and post-partum in bitches, from mating until the end of weaning.

3)      Monitor hormonal and metabolic changes in puppies during the perinatal period by claws serial collections.

The final aim is to define physiological (and, if possible, pathological) hormonal and metabolic profiles, providing new references for the clinical application of those matrices as diagnostic and/or prognostic tools, in order to improve the management of puberty, pregnancy and post-partum and perinatal period.


Fig  1 A hair  sample.


Fig  2 Clipping claws of a newborn.