Preventative health care of elasmobranchs is an important but understudied field of aquatic veterinary medicine. Evaluation of inflammation through the acute phase response is a valuable tool in health assessments. To better assess the health of bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo) under managed care, normal reference intervals of protein electrophoresis (EPH) and the acute phase proteins, C-reactive protein (CRP) and haptoglobin (HP), were established. Blood was collected from wild caught, captive raised bonnethead sharks housed at public aquaria. Lithium heparinized plasma was either submitted fresh or stored at −80°C prior to submission. Electrophoresis identified protein fractions with migration characteristics similar to other animals with albumin, α-1 globulin, α-2 globulin, β globulin, and γ globulin. These fractions were classified as fractions 1–5 as fractional contents are unknown in this species. Commercial reagents for CRP and HP were validated for use in bonnethead sharks. Reference intervals were established using the robust method recommended by the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology for the calculation of 90% reference intervals. Once established, the diagnostic and clinical applicability of these reference intervals was used to assess blood from individuals with known infectious diseases that resulted in systemic inflammation and eventual death. Unhealthy bonnethead sharks had significantly decreased fraction 2, fraction 3, and fraction 3:4 ratio and significantly increased fraction 5, CRP, and HP. These findings advance our understanding of elasmobranch acute phase inflammatory response and health and aid clinicians in the diagnosis of inflammatory disease in bonnethead sharks.
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