Preliminary evaluation of total protein concentration and electrophoretic protein fractions in fresh and frozen serum from wild Horned Vipers (Vipera ammodytes ammodytes)



Daniela Proverbio, Department of Veterinary Clinical Science, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Milan, Via Celoria 10, 20133 Milan, Italy




Determination of the health status of reptiles is based on physical examination and evaluation of hematologic and biochemical values. Evaluation of serum total protein (TP) concentration and protein fractions plays an important role in health assessment; however, little is known about references value for these analytes in wild viperoid snakes. In addition, studies evaluating the stability of proteins in frozen viperoid serum are lacking.


The aims of this study were to establish preliminary reference values for concentrations of TP and protein fractions in serum from wild vipers and to evaluate the stability of serum proteins in frozen serum samples from viperoid snakes.


Blood samples were collected from wild Horned Vipers (Vipera ammodytes ammodytes). Using fresh serum, TP concentrations were determined using the biuret method and protein fractions were analyzed using agarose gel electrophoresis (AGE); albumin/globulin ratios were calculated. Analyses were also performed on serum frozen at −20°C for 70 days and then thawed. Pre- and post-storage results were compared using the Mann–Whitney U-test.


Five adult wild Horned Vipers were sampled and comprised 4 males and 1 female. The female snake had higher TP concentrations than the male snakes. The electrophoretic patterns demonstrated 6 protein fractions that were similar for all 5 snakes. There were no significant changes in the concentrations of the 6 protein fractions post-storage; the percentage of the alpha-1 fraction was increased in frozen/thawed serum.


Total protein concentrations in serum from Vipera ammodytes ammodytes were in agreement with published reference intervals for healthy reptiles and viperoid snakes. Serum protein fractions were easy to identify using AGE electrophoresis.