Oxytocin in bovine saliva: validation of two assays and changes in parturition and at weaning

BMC Vet Res. 2021 Apr 1;17(1):140. doi: 10.1186/s12917-021-02838-5.


Background: The possible use of oxytocin in saliva as an indicator of positive emotions in bovine species has been poorly investigated. In the present study, two new assays (one using a monoclonal antibody and the other using a polyclonal antibody) for the measurement of oxytocin in bovine saliva were developed and validated. Also, the changes in oxytocin in saliva were explored in two different situations. One was around parturition, and for this purpose, saliva samples from 13 cows were collected at three different times: 7 days before the parturition, the day of parturition and 7 days after the parturition. The second situation was weaning and grouping of calves, and for this purpose, saliva from 25 calves was collected at three different times: 1 day before weaning, 2 days after weaning or milk withdrawal and 4 days after grouping calves.

Results: In cows, oxytocin concentrations showed an increase on the day of parturition with both assays, while in calves, oxytocin concentrations showed a decrease 4 days after the grouping.

Conclusions: The assays validated in this report could be used for the measurement of oxytocin in bovine saliva and detect changes in this analyte that can occur in different physiological or productive situations such as parturition and weaning.

Keywords: Calves; Cow; Oxytocin; Saliva.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cattle / physiology
  • Female
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Immunoassay / veterinary*
  • Oxytocin / metabolism*
  • Parturition / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Weaning*


  • Oxytocin