Objective disease markers in the southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) are in high demand. In the field, such markers are typically needed to decide whether a captured white rhinoceros is fit to cope with quarantine, transport, or both. Captive white rhinoceros have a need for unbiased biomarkers for early detection of disease. Acute phase proteins, including haptoglobin, are proteins that significantly change their plasma concentration in response to tissue perturbation or inflammation, such as that occurring during infection or neoplastic disease. Acute phase proteins are well known diagnostic tools in both human and veterinary medicine. In this study, an ELISA with commercially available anti-human haptoglobin antibodies for quantification of haptoglobin in white rhinoceros serum was developed. The validity of the haptoglobin assay and haptoglobin as a biomarker of disease was investigated with the use of serum samples from both captive and free-ranging animals with a well-described health status. The assay was precise (intra-assay and interassay reproducibility were 5.0% and 13.1%, respectively) and reliably quantified white rhinoceros haptoglobin serum concentrations consuming low volumes of sample. The assay was sensitive to the presence of free hemoglobin in the sample at levels corresponding to a visibly hemolyzed sample. Haptoglobin was readily measurable, baseline levels (in white rhinoceros with no clinical signs of disease) did not differ between genders, and a significant increase was seen in captive as well as in free-ranging white rhinoceros with inflammatory disease. Thus, haptoglobin is a positive acute phase protein in southern white rhinoceros with potential for use as an objective marker of disease.
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11 March 2022
DEVELOPMENT OF A QUANTITATIVE IMMUNOASSAY FOR SERUM HAPTOGLOBIN AS A PUTATIVE DISEASE MARKER IN THE SOUTHERN WHITE RHINOCEROS (CERATOTHERIUM SIMUM SIMUM)
Henrik H. Petersen,
Anne K.H. Krogh,
Mads F. Bertelsen,
Peter M.H. Heegaard