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ADULT mammals respond to tissue damage by implementing the acute phase response (APR), which comprises a series of specific physiological reactions (Baumann and Gauldie 1994). One of the many components is an acute phase protein (APP) response in which increased hepatic synthesis leads to an increased serum concentration of positive APP (Bertelsen and others 2009), which serve different physiological functions for the immune system (Gruys and others 2005). The serum concentration of negative APP, such as albumin, is reduced in an APR (Cray 2008). Infection, inflammation, trauma and neoplasia can all induce an APR (Baumann and Gauldie 1994) with serum concentration of the APP returning to base levels when the triggering factor is no longer present (Petersen and others 2004).
Evaluation of the APR in animals was limited to electrophoresis until quantitative assays were developed to measure the concentrations of specific APP (Cray and others 2007). Significant progress has subsequently been made in the detection, measurement and application of APP as biomarkers in both companion and farm animal medicine (Eckersall and Bell 2010) and as potential markers of herd health (Cray and others 2009). Health monitoring in zoological collections may be challenging due to the limited knowledge of many species and a tendency of wild animals to mask signs of illness (Bertelsen and others 2009). Measurement of APP may play a useful role here, both in the detection of inflammatory disease and in the ‘real time’ monitoring of inflammation and response to treatment (Jacobsen and others 2006).
Serum Amyloid A (SAA) is classed as a major APP. An increase in concentration by several orders of magnitude has been demonstrated to occur within hours of …