African elephants in managed care have presented differences in the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a situation primarily thought to be due to dietary differences between the managed animals and their free-ranging counterparts. Because of this, circulating fatty acid status is included in routine monitoring of elephant health. A method of blood collection that requires only a few drops of whole blood, dried on filter paper (DBS) and can be used for analyzing full fatty acid profiles offers advantages in clinical application.
This study compared the use of whole blood, and whole blood DBS, serum or plasma for use in evaluating circulating fatty acid composition in African savannah elephants. Samples from six African elephants (two males and four females) were collected during the same week at the NC Zoo, Asheboro, NC.
Results found only 2 of 36 individual fatty acids and none of the 10 fatty acid groupings were different when comparing the four blood fraction sample types to each other with Mann-Whitney U-Test pairwise comparisons. Myristic acid (14:0) was lower in the DBS samples than in whole blood, serum, and plasma and pentadecaenoic acid (15:1) was slightly more concentrated in DBS and whole blood.
Results indicate that fatty acid profile of serum, plasma, whole blood, and DBS are comparable in African elephants. The DBS method offers advantages in acquisition and handling and may be preferable to other methods in both routine health assessment of captive animals and field research on free ranging animals.
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