Pathogenic infections increase morbidity and reduce performance in livestock, and thus understanding the comprehensive physiological changes associated with infections can benefit production sustainability. In this study, we sought to investigate such physiological responses to an acute immune challenge in lambs. Polypay wethers received single IV injections of 1.5 µg/kg lipopolysaccharide endotoxin (LPS-injected; n = 6) or saline (controls; n = 6). Corneal temperatures (via infrared thermography), rectal temperatures, blood, plasma, and saliva were assessed every 2 h for 10 h after injections. Blood was also assessed at 24 h. LPS-injected lambs exhibited elevated (P < 0.05) corneal and rectal temperatures that peaked at 4 h but were still slightly greater (P < 0.05) than controls at 10 h. Circulating total white blood cells, monocytes, and granulocytes were reduced (P < 0.05) in LPS-injected lambs within the first 4 h but were subsequently greater (P < 0.05) than in controls. Lymphocytes were reduced (P < 0.05) in LPS-injected lambs over the first 8 h and did not differ from controls thereafter. Red blood cells, hematocrit, and hemoglobin were increased (P < 0.05) in LPS-injected lambs over the first 6 h, indicating mild dehydration. Blood glucose briefly increased (P < 0.05) in LPS-injected lambs at 2 h but was less (P < 0.05) than in controls thereafter. Blood lactate was greater (P < 0.05) in LPS-injected lambs between 6 and 10 h after injections, which together with reduced (P < 0.05) CO2 partial pressure indicated a metabolic shift toward glycolysis. LPS-injected lambs exhibited a transient increase (P < 0.05) in plasma TNFα at 2 and 4 h only and sustained increases (P < 0.05) in CXCL9 and CXCL10 beginning at 6 and 4 h, respectively. They also exhibited a mild, paradoxical increase (P < 0.05) in the anti-inflammatory sFRP3. Salivary TNFα was increased (P < 0.05) in LPS-injected lambs at 2 h only. Regression analyses indicated that rectal temperatures were a generally poor predictor of the other inflammatory components in this study, with the exception of circulating leukocyte populations. Likewise, correlations among the 10 cytokines measured in this study were generally weak, with notable exceptions between CXCL9 and CXCL10 and between IL-21 and IFNγ. These findings demonstrate that physiological changes to even short-lived immune challenges are dynamic in nature and persist beyond the time frame of febrile responses and other common assessments.
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