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  • 1 ECAV — University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) Department of Veterinary Sciences P.O. Box 1013 Vila Real 5001-801 Portugal
  • | 2 University of Minho 3B’s Research Group, Department of Polymer Engineering Guimarães Portugal
  • | 3 ICVS/3B’s — Life and Health Sciences Research Institute Braga/Guimarães Portugal
  • | 4 ECAV-UTAD Department of Animal Sciences Vila Real Portugal
  • | 5 UTAD CECAV — Center for Animal Sciences and Veterinary Studies Vila Real Portugal
  • | 6 ECVA-UTAD Department of Biology and Environment Vila Real Portugal
  • | 7 CITAB — Centre for Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences, UTAD Vila Real Portugal
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This study aimed to assess serum total alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and its bone isoform (BALP) levels during the ageing and in different physiologic states of sheep, in order to expand the knowledge about the variation of these biomarkers over the sheep lifespan. Ninety female sheep were divided into nine groups of various ages and physiological states (dry, lactation and pregnancy). Serum ALP, BALP and mineral levels were determined by commercial immunoassay, molecular absorbance spectrophotometry and chemical luminescence for BALP determination. Serum ALP and BALP decreased as sheep aged, and no statistically significant differences were obtained between ewes in different physiologic states. The continuous decline of serum BALP concentration along the sheep lifespan, namely in mature and old sheep, is a sign of decreasing bone turnover associated with ageing. Serum calcium concentrations increased slightly until 2 years of age and then showed a tenuous but statistically significant decrease in mature sheep, while serum phosphorus maintained an uninterrupted decrease as sheep matured. The knowledge of serum values of bone biomarkers throughout the sheep lifespan may be useful in preclinical orthopaedic research studies and for animal science studies using sheep.

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