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Open Access Iron Indices in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

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Abstract:

Bottlenose dolphins can have iron overload (that is, hemochromatosis), and managed populations of dolphins may be more susceptible to this disease than are wild dolphins. Serum iron, total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), transferrin saturation, and ferritin were measured in 181 samples from 141 dolphins in 2 managed collections and 2 free-ranging populations. Although no iron indices increased with age among free-ranging dolphins, ferritin increased with age in managed collections. Dolphins from managed collections had higher iron, ferritin, and transferrin saturation values than did free-ranging dolphins. Dolphins with high serum iron (exceeding 300 μg/dL) were more likely to have elevated ferritin but not ceruloplasmin or haptoglobin, demonstrating that high serum levels of iron are due to a true increase in total body iron. A time-series study of 4 dolphins with hemochromatosis that were treated with phlebotomy demonstrated significant decreases in serum ferritin, iron, and TIBC between pre- and posttreatment samples; transferrin saturation initially fell but returned to prephlebotomy levels by 6 mo after treatment. Compared with those in managed collections, wild dolphins were 15 times more likely to have low serum iron (100 μg/dL or less), and this measure was associated with lower haptoglobin. In conclusion, bottlenose dolphins in managed collections are more likely to have greater iron stores than are free-ranging dolphins. Determining why this situation occurs among some dolphin populations and not others may improve the treatment of hemochromatosis in dolphins and provide clues to causes of nonhereditary hemochromatosis in humans.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Mystic Aquarium, a Division of Sea Research Foundation, Mystic, Connecticut, USA. LMazzaro@searesearch.org 2: National Marine Mammal Foundation, San Diego, California, USA 3: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean, Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Charleston, South Carolina, USA 4: Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 5: US Navy Marine Mammal Program, San Diego, California, USA 6: Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Manhattan, Kansas, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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