Clinical biochemistry of rescued Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus): serum or heparinized plasma?

ABSTRACT In the last few years, an increasing number of debilitated Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) has been rescued and taken to rehabilitation centers on Brazil’s southern coast to be clinically treated and evaluated for re-introduction. This work aims to compare the viability of heparinized plasma with the viability of serum for biochemistry analyses under rehabilitation conditions. Blood sampled from 31 physically healthy rescued penguins was processed into serum/plasma-paired samples and analyzed for 12 biochemical parameters: alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), cholesterol (CHOL), creatine kinase (CK), gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), glucose, (GLU) lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), total proteins (TP), triglycerides (TG), urea (UR), and uric acid (UA).The results showed that six paired samples presented visual signs of hemolysis (visual hemolytic score≥1), four of which occurred exclusively in the serum counterpart. Significant differences (P≤ 0.5) between sample types were found for CHOL (3%), GLU (6%) and TG (52%). Only TG was considered clinically relevant (>10%). All mean/median results fell within the available reference intervals by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Penguin, 2014). In conclusion, we verified that heparinized plasma is a viable sample for the clinical biochemistry of rescued Magellanic penguins as it yields compatible results with serum, while providing practical benefits. The adoption of this practice favors a faster bird recovery, by minimizing blood sampling volume, and optimizes material resources, allowing use of the same collector tube as for hematology.