Native immunity and oxidative traits of growing rabbits


  • L. Moscati Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Umbria e Marche
  • A. Dal Bosco Dipartimento di Biologia Applicata
  • L. Battistaci Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Umbria e Marche
  • R. Cardinali Dipartimento di Biologia Applicata
  • C. Mugnai Dipartimento di Biologia Applicata
  • C. Castellini Dipartimento di Biologia Applicata



rabbit, welfare, immunity parameters, oxidative status


The evaluation of animal welfare through innate immunity (Serum Bactericidal Activity – SBA, Hemolytic  Complement Assay – HCA, lysozyme) and the antioxidant status of the body (Reactive Oxygen Substances – ROS  and Antioxidant Power of plasma, AP) offers a reliable prognostic and diagnostic tool. The aim of the present study  was to investigate trends and correlations between some traits of innate immunity and the oxidative status of fattening  rabbits at different ages. Blood samples from 120 New Zealand White fattening rabbits at 45, 55, 65, and 75 d of age  were collected and analyzed. The results showed that SBA did not have a normal distribution because of numerous 0  values. Data distribution was normal when only SBA > 0 values were considered. Lysozyme (mean value 27.19 μg/mL)  and HCA (mean value 50.84 CH50% ) had stable trends at different ages and showed a tendency that was comparable  to that obtained in other animal species. On the contrary, SBA (mean value 42.15%) showed an unexpected positive  correlation with lysozyme (P<0.001) and a negative correlation with HCA (P<0.001). Oxygen free-radicals are involved  in the pathogenesis of several diseases and oxidative stress alters immune competence. In this experiment, ROS and  AP showed mean values of 0.60 mmol H2 O2  and 421.67 μmol HClO, respectively. In this context positive correlation  coefficients between oxidative status traits and immune traits (P<0.001) were found, although at a very low level; and  surprisingly, only ROS and SBA did not show any significant correlation. In this study it emerged that, even in the  absence of evident pathologies, the immune and oxidative traits of fattening rabbits could be affected by environmental  stress (weaning, cage, neighbors) 


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