Acute-phase proteins (APP) are the foundation to the innate immune response and valuable biomarkers that increase with inflammation, infection, neoplasia, stress, and trauma.2,4,16 Little is known about the acute-phase response in cetaceans and if these proteins can be used for health monitoring in individuals and free-ranging populations. The purpose of this study was to characterize serum concentrations of haptoglobin (Hp) and serum amyloid A (SAA), as well as electrophoretic profiles of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in free-ranging (n = 33) and professional care (n = 27) settings. Results were correlated to commonly utilized inflammatory indices including erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), fibrinogen, total white blood cell count (WBC), and absolute neutrophil count. SAA levels, measured with a dolphin-specific enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), were significantly higher (P = 0.05) in free-ranging dolphins (mean = 4.26; SE = 1.12) when compared with those under professional care (mean = 1.82; SE = 0.45). For dolphins under professional care, a statistically significant correlation was identified between ESR and Hp (P < 0.001; r = 0.69), ESR and SAA (P < 0.001; r = 0.67), fibrinogen and Hp (P = 0.001; r = 0.58), and fibrinogen and SAA (P = 0.002; r = 0.56). In addition, there was a significant correlation between WBC and SAA (P = 0.01; r = 0.38) and absolute neutrophil count and SAA (P = 0.04; r = 0.32). There were no significant correlations between study variables observed in free-ranging dolphins. The variable correlation of APPs with commonly utilized inflammatory indices demonstrates that these proteins are independent measures of inflammation with unique sensitivity, specificity, and timeline of expression. The results of this study contribute to improved health monitoring of dolphins and have the potential to assist in identification of compromised health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology