To determine the utility of blood symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) concentration measurement as a diagnostic tool for chronic kidney disease (CKD) in tigers (Panthera tigris) by comparing results for SDMA with those for traditional renal biomarkers and investigating correlations between these biomarkers and histopathologic kidney changes in tigers with CKD.
Blood, urine, and kidney samples from 35 tigers with CKD from 2 sanctuaries.
Blood (serum or plasma) and urine samples were collected antemortem. Necropsy, including gross and histologic assessment, was performed for tigers that died or were euthanized for quality-of-life reasons. Results for CKD biomarkers in blood (BUN, creatinine, phosphorus, and SDMA concentrations) and urine (protein concentration, urine protein-to-creatinine ratio, and urine specific gravity) were evaluated for correlation with histologic kidney damage scored with an objective grading scale defined by percentage of inflammation, fibrosis, and tubular atrophy.
Symmetric dimethylarginine had the strongest significant correlation (ρ = 0.667) with histologic kidney damage score, followed by urine specific gravity (ρ = –0.639), blood creatinine concentration (ρ = 0.624), and BUN (ρ = 0.588). No significant correlation with kidney score was identified for blood phosphorus concentration, urine protein concentration, or the urine protein-to-creatinine ratio.
We recommend SDMA be prioritized as a renal biomarker in tigers, with SDMA results considered in addition to those of other traditional renal biomarkers when assessing kidney function in tigers. Additionally, the grading scale we developed could be replicated across patients and pathologists for more consistent postmortem assessment of CKD in tigers.