Monitoring animals’ welfare is a tricky challenge. The responsiveness to stressors is subjective and its magnitude varies among species, breeds, and individuals. Small molecules named miRNAs obtained from body fluid samples are promising biomarkers to classify animal welfare. Under common farming conditions, we identified several miRNAs in the saliva of ewes. Based on the concentration and trend of individual salivary cortisol, one of the molecules historically recognized and used to define the stress level in vertebrates, we divided the animals into two clusters. The expression of two miRNAs involved in regulating genes related to the stress pathway resulted in significant differences between the two phenotypes, and their trends were correlated. These results have produced objective data to improve the knowledge about sheep physiology and the basis to develop new tools for welfare assessment. In the animal production field, the assessment of biomarkers that are useful in identifying individuals with different levels of vulnerability or resiliency to stress stimuli may help to introduce new strategies in animal farms and genetic research for the selection of animals.
Adaptation response in sheep: Ewes in different cortisol clusters reveal changes in the expression of salivary miRNAs / Manenti, Sabella; Viola, Irene; Ala, Ugo; Cornale, Paolo; Macchi, Elisabetta; Toschi, Paola; Martignani, Eugenio; Baratta, Mario; Miretti, Silvia. - In: ANIMALS. - ISSN 2076-2615. - 13:(2023). [10.3390/ani13203273]