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  • Author or Editor: Barbara K. Linnehan x
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To establish normal values for pre- and post-prandial bile acids and protein C in Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) pups.


45 harbor seals undergoing rehabilitation at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, 0 to 16 weeks, and deemed healthy aside from malnutrition or maternal separation.


Venous blood was collected from the intervertebral extradural sinus in fasted seals and again 2 hours after a fish meal.


The reference interval (90% CL, confidence limit) for pre-prandial (fasting) bile acids was 17.2 μmol/L to 25.4 μmol/L, post-prandial bile acids were 36.9 μmol/L to 46.4 μmol/L, and protein C was 72.3% to 85.4%, across ages. For comparison between developmental ages, pups were grouped into 3 age classes: < 14 days, 5 to 8 weeks, and 10 to 16 weeks. Age affected pre- and post-prandial bile acids; pups < 14 days had significantly higher pre-prandial bile acids (36.0 μmol/L ± 16.5 μmol/L; P < .0001) than other age groups and pups 5 to 8 weeks had significantly higher post-prandial bile acids (50.4 μmol/L ± 21.9 μmol/L; P < .001). Protein C was also affected by age, with seals < 14 days having significantly lower values (mean, 51.8% ± 16.7%; P < .0001).


This study established normal reference intervals for bile acids in harbor seal pups and offered a preliminary investigation into protein C in pinnipeds. The bile acid values from 0- to 16-week-old seal pups were well above established normal ranges for domestic species, highlighting the utility of age- and species-specific reference ranges. The values presented here and the differences across age classes will aid clinicians in accurately diagnosing hepatobiliary disease in harbor seal pups.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research