Renal and gastrointestinal pathologies are widespread in the captive cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) population but are often diagnosed at a late stage, because diagnostic tools are limited to the evaluation of clinical signs or general blood examination. Presently, no data are available on serum proteins and acute-phase proteins in cheetahs during health or disease, although they might be important to improve health monitoring. This study aimed to quantify serum proteins by capillary electrophoresis in 80 serum samples from captive cheetahs, categorized according to health status and disease type. Moreover, serum amyloid A concentrations were measured via a turbidimetric immunoassay validated in domestic cats, whereas haptoglobin and C-reactive protein were determined by non-species-specific functional tests. Cheetahs classified as healthy had serum protein and acute phase protein concentrations within reference ranges for healthy domestic cats. In contrast, unhealthy cheetahs had higher (P < 0.001) serum amyloid A, alpha2-globulin, and haptoglobin concentrations compared with the healthy subgroup. Moreover, serum amyloid A (P = 0.020), alpha2-globulin (P < 0.001) and haptoglobin (P = 0.001) concentrations in cheetahs suffering from chronic kidney disease were significantly greater compared to the reportedly healthy cheetahs. Our study indicates that serum proteins in the cheetah can be analyzed by routine capillary electrophoresis, whereas acute-phase proteins can be measured using available immunoassays or non-species-specific techniques, which are also likely to be applicable in other exotic felids. Moreover, results suggest that serum amyloid A and haptoglobin are important acute-phase proteins in the diseased cheetah and highlight the need to evaluate their role as early-onset markers for disease.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 2014, Vol 45, Issue 3, p. 497-506