The effect of volatile fatty acids (VFA) on rumen wall, epidermis of nasolabial surface, perioplum, and epicera of calves was evaluated. The experiment also aimed to validate the procedure of tegument biopsies as indicators of ruminal mucosa alterations. Seventeen neonatal calves with foley catheters received intraruminal infusions of VFA or saline, during 37 days. At 89-day-old, the animals were slaughtered and tissue samples were collected from rumen, nasolabial surface, epicera, and perioplum from face and hindquarters. VFA infusion increased total epithelium area and metabolically active ruminal cell area; although butirate did not induce the papilar development. The effect of nasolabial surface VFA infusion was the opposite to that observed in the rumen. No histological lesion was observed on nasolabial surface, epicera, and perioplum, demonstrating that these are consequences of VFA direct effect on ruminal epithelium. Butyrate and lactate induced more alterations on the ruminal epithelium. Indirect and direct VFA effects on keratinized epithelium tissues morphology were not identical. Tegumentary biopsies may be useful as indicators of morphological alterations of ruminal mucosa.
calf; volatile fatty acids; nasolabial surface; epicera; perioplum