APP in Wildlife Species

Acute Phase Proteins in Wildlife Species

Acute phase proteins (APP) are the cornerstone to the innate immune response. APP have been shown to be valuable biomarkers as increases can occur with inflammation, infection, neoplasia, stress, and trauma. All animals – from fish to mammals – have APP although the type of major APP may vary from C reactive protein (CRP) to serum amyloid A (SAA). Haptoglobin (HP) is a mainstay of most species. Although much of the published work has demonstrated key clinical uses for APP in domesticated mammals such as dogs and horses, an important paper was published in 2009 which proposed and demonstrated the application of current APP assays for use in wildlife and zoo species (Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 40:199-203).

Protein electophoresis has been utilized for many years in avian, exotic, and wildlife medicine. While not only presenting an accurate albumin quantitation, it provides a reflection of acute inflammatory processes and ongoing humoral immune responses. EPH is, however, a method which looks at bulk protein changes; in fact, over 200 proteins are believed to be present in the overall fractions. Thus, the interest in using assays for specific APP revolves around both specificity and sensitivity. EPH fractions are resolved at the g/L level; APP assays quantitate to the mg/ml and mg/L levels. Major APP can increase 10-1000 fold and are often present in neglible levels in normal animals. Thus, the signal to noise ratio is quite enviable in these specific assays.

Our working list of APP by species can be found on this website on the main APP page. Work is underway studying APP expression in several species including birds, fish, reptiles, manatees, rhinoceros, sharks, and elephants. Please contact the laboratory if you are interested in starting collaborative studies. A brief summary of our findings is presented here.

Birds – Transferrin, SAA, and HP assays have been validated for use in birds. Transferrin was observed to increase in egg laying birds. SAA and HP were both observed to increase in a variety of cases including infection, trauma, and metabolic diseases. See more at the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 27(2):83-89, 2013.

Reptiles- SAA and HP were used in several different species of reptiles with success. See publications on box turtles (Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 45(4):836-842, 2014) and loggerhead turtles (Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 45(3):700-703, 2014).

ManateesSAA and HP were used with samples from manatees suffering from cold stress and trauma. SAA especially mirrored success with rehabilitation (with a higher sensitivity than traditional measures) indicating its promise as a prognostic marker in this species. See more in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 44(4):909-915, 2013.

Zebra- SAA and HP were found to increase in zebra with a variety of inflammatory processes. SAA is a major APP in this species. In our publication in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (44(4):1105-1108, 2013), a study is presented from a collaboration with Lion Country Safari and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

SharksSAA and HP were found to increase in sharks with trauma and metabolic disease. See a publication on bamboo sharks – Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 45(4):782-786, 2014.

ElephantsSAA was observed to be significantly increased in Asian elephants concurrent with EEHV viremia. More than 20 fold increases were observed in some animals. See more in the Journal of Zoo and Widlife Medicine 44(3):605-612, 2013 and the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 26(5):616-621, 2014.