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Keywords:

  • Phoca vitulina ;
  • C-reactive protein;
  • acute phase reaction;
  • health monitoring;
  • harbor seals;
  • North Sea;
  • inflammation;
  • Pinnipedia

Abstract

C-reactive protein (CRP) belongs to the acute phase proteins. Increased levels are present in inflammatory conditions, trauma, or intoxications. In veterinary medicine CRP is used as powerful diagnostic parameter in health studies, whereas little is known about the role of CRP in Pinnipedia. Therefore, samples were collected from 131 harbor seals from the North Sea between November 2002 and November 2007. CRP blood values were measured and the physiological range was calculated. Furthermore, the influence of age and sex of the animal, geographical location and season was investigated. The CRP concentrations in plasma/serum showed a median of 33 μg/mL, a 5th percentile of 18 μg/mL, and a 95th percentile of 80 μg/mL. No significant influences of sex, season, or geographical location on CRP concentration were detected. Juveniles showed significantly higher CRP levels than adult animals, whereas CRP values in newborns appear to be lower than in juveniles and adults. Our report describes for the first time CRP plasma/serum concentrations in a large group of harbor seals. It suggests that CRP is useful to detect inflammatory conditions and may help to improve health studies of this species.