Ranavirus is an emerging disease that infects fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Ranavirus induces an inflammatory response leading to death in many susceptible species. Red-eared sliders (RES; Trachemys scripta elegans) are vulnerable to ranavirus infection and are economically significant chelonians kept in the pet trade and utilized in research. Early identification of RES with inflammatory diseases would allow for isolation of affected individuals and subsequent disease investigation, including molecular testing for ranavirus. Validation of an inexpensive, clinically relevant, and reproducible diagnostic test that detects inflammation in turtles is needed. Although commonly used, plasma protein electrophoresis to detect an inflammatory acute-phase protein response has not been evaluated in a controlled environment in turtles with experimentally induced inflammatory disease. The objective of this study was to measure plasma protein fractions by electrophoresis to determine if an acute-phase protein response occurs in RES during infection with a frog virus 3–like ranavirus (FV3-like virus) isolated from a chelonian. A Bradford assay and agarose gel electrophoresis (AGE) were performed using plasma collected during a study of the effect of temperature on the pathogenesis of ranavirus in RES. In RES at the time of viremia, total albumin (ALBmg/ml) and albumin to globulin ratio were significantly lower and β-globulin percentage was significantly higher in RES exposed to ranavirus (n = 4) as compared to matched, uninfected RES (n = 8). In the last sample collected prior to death, total protein (TPmg/ml), ALBmg/ml, α-globulin percentage, and total α-globulin (αmg/ml) were significantly lower in RES exposed to ranavirus (n = 4) than control individuals (n = 8). In summary, FV3-like virus induces a decrease in plasma albumin concentration at the onset of viremia and decreases in TPmg/ml, ALBmg/ml, and αmg/ml concentrations prior to death in RES as measured by AGE.
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