Age-dependent physiological dynamics in acid–base balance, electrolytes, and blood metabolites in growing goats
There is a paucity of published data reporting acid–base equilibrium in goats, and no information is available on how the acid–base complexity changes when suckling goat kids become ruminants. The aims of this study were to evaluate young healthy goats for age-related changes in serum proteins, metabolites, and electrolytes; differences in results when the Henderson–Hasselbalch equation or strong ion approaches were used were also assessed. To assess biological variability and reproducibility, two consecutive long-term studies, each lasting from the 6th to 56th week of life (wl), were performed in 15 (Study 1) and 10 (Study 2) animals. Blood gas analysis, serum biochemical analysis, and electrophoresis were performed on venous blood, and acid–base information was obtained using the traditional Henderson–Hasselbalch approach, Stewart’s strong ion model, and Constable’s simplified strong ion model. In all goats within the first 4–5 months, serum concentrations of glucose, L-lactate, and inorganic phosphate decreased significantly, while serum concentrations of total protein, albumin, and gamma globulin increased. Consequently, nonvolatile weak acids (Atot Alb and Atot TP) increased. At the end of this ‘adaptation period’, i.e. when milk was replaced by purely plant-based food, significantly lower bicarbonate and base excess values were accompanied by blood pH that shifted towards acidosis. Electrolytes (Na+, K+, Ca2+, and Cl−), anion gap, strong ion difference, and strong ion gap did not show age-dependent trends. In conclusion, somatic growth and development of gastro-intestinal fermentation in growing goats act as complex sources of physiological variability on acid–base equilibrium that was not reflected by the Henderson–Hasselbalch equation only.
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