In the pig, nest building occurs in the day preceding parturition (gestation=114--116 days). Nest building behaviour can be induced in pregnant, pseudopregnant and cyclic female pigs following injection of prostaglandin F2alpha. Here we investigated behaviour and endocrine changes after the administration of indomethacin, which inhibits cyclo-oxygenase enzymes and thus prostaglandin synthesis. In experiment 1, pregnant primiparous pigs (gilts) were blood sampled through jugular vein catheters every 20 min from 1000 h on day 113 of pregnancy and behaviour was recorded until birth. Two hours after pre-partum nest building began, animals received 4 mg/kg indomethacin (n=7) or control vehicle (n=8) intramuscularly. Indomethacin-treated animals showed less nest building than controls between 1 and 5 h after injection (P<0.05), during which time they were mostly inactive and lay down for longer than controls. From 5 h before birth until birth there was no significant treatment difference in nest building behaviour. There was a tendency for the start of birth to be delayed in indomethacin-treated animals. Plasma 13,14-dihydro-15-keto-prostaglandin F2 alpha (a major metabolite of prostaglandin F2 alpha) rose during pre-injection nest building and then fell following indomethacin treatment, but was not significantly different between groups when behaviour differed. Plasma oxytocin, cortisol and progesterone were not significantly affected by treatment. In experiment 2, indomethacin-treated non-pregnant gilts (n=7) did not show any changes in activity or posture compared with vehicle-treated controls (n=6) between 90 and 150 min after treatment. These results suggested that indomethacin treatment reversibly and specifically inhibits porcine pre-partum nest building by a mechanism that may involve endogenous prostaglandin F2 alpha synthesis inhibition but is independent of circulating oxytocin, cortisol and progesterone concentrations.
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