DAO 108:71-81 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02704

Clinicoimmunopathologic findings in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus with positive Chlamydiaceae antibody titers

Gregory D. Bossart1,2,3,*, Tracy A. Romano4, Margie M. Peden-Adams5, Adam Schaefer2, Stephen McCulloch2, Juli D. Goldstein2, Charles D. Rice6, Patricia A. Fair7, Carolyn Cray3, John S. Reif8

1Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30313, USA
2Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, 5600 US 1 North, Ft. Pierce, Florida 34946, USA
3Division of Comparative Pathology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, PO Box 016960 (R-46) Miami, Florida 33101, USA
4The Mystic Aquarium, a Division of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, Connecticut 06355, USA
5Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154, USA
6Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate Program in Environmental Toxicology, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634, USA
7National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, 219 Fort Johnson Rd, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
8Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Sera from free-ranging Atlantic bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus inhabiting the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida, and coastal waters of Charleston (CHS), South Carolina, USA, were tested for antibodies to Chlamydiaceae as part of a multidisciplinary study of individual and population health. A suite of clinicoimmunopathologic variables was evaluated in Chlamydiaceae–seropositive dolphins (n = 43) and seronegative healthy dolphins (n = 83). Fibrinogen, lactate dehydrogenase, amylase, and absolute numbers of neutrophils, lymphocytes, and basophils were significantly higher, and serum bicarbonate, total alpha globulin, and alpha-2 globulin were significantly lower in dolphins with positive Chlamydiaceae titers compared with seronegative healthy dolphins. Several differences in markers of innate and adaptive immunity were also found. Concanavalin A-induced T lymphocyte proliferation, lipopolysaccharide-induced B lymphocyte proliferation, and granulocytic phagocytosis were significantly lower, and absolute numbers of mature CD 21 B lymphocytes, natural killer cell activity and lysozyme concentration were significantly higher in dolphins with positive Chlamydiaceae antibody titers compared to seronegative healthy dolphins. Additionally, dolphins with positive Chlamydiaceae antibody titers had significant increases in ELISA antibody titers to Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. These data suggest that Chlamydiaceae infection may produce subclinical clinicoimmunopathologic perturbations that impact health. Any potential subclinical health impacts are important for the IRL and CHS dolphin populations, as past studies have indicated that both dolphin populations are affected by other complex infectious and neoplastic diseases, often associated with immunologic perturbations and anthropogenic contaminants.


KEY WORDS: Bottlenose dolphin · Chlamydiaceae antibody · Seroepidemiology · Clinical pathology · Immunology


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Cite this article as: Bossart GD, Romano TA, Peden-Adams MM, Schaefer A and others (2014) Clinicoimmunopathologic findings in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus with positive Chlamydiaceae antibody titers. Dis Aquat Org 108:71-81. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02704

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