To determine (1) if chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 1 (CXCL1), matrix metalloproteinase 8 (MMP8), interleukin-10 (IL-10), interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) can be detected in serum from Asian elephants, and (2) if their concentrations are significantly elevated in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) culture–positive elephants compared to –negative elephants. CXCL1, MMP8, IL-10, IFN-γ, and TNF-α were recently identified as potential diagnostic biomarkers for pulmonary tuberculosis in experimental studies in animals and humans. Therefore, we hypothesized that they would be detectable and significantly elevated in M.tb culture–positive elephants compared to M.tb culture–negative elephants.
101 Asian elephant serum samples, including 91 samples from 6 M.tb-negative elephants and 10 samples from 5 M.tb-positive elephants (none of which exhibited clinical signs of disease). M.tb status was determined by trunk wash culture.
Commercially available ELISA kits were used to determine the concentrations of each biomarker in serum samples.
Biomarker concentrations were below the limit of detection for the assay in 100/101 (99%) samples for CXCL1, 98/101 (97%) samples for MMP8, 85/101 (84%) samples for IL-10, 75/101 (74%) samples for IFN-γ, and 45/101 (45%) samples for TNF-α. Multiple M.tb culture–positive elephants did not have detectable levels of any of the 5 biomarkers.
CXCL1, MMP8, IL-10, IFN-γ, and TNF-α were not elevated in M.tb culture–positive Asian elephants compared to M.tb culture–negative Asian elephants. This may be related to disease state (ie, clinically asymptomatic). More sensitive assays are needed to better understand the role of these biomarkers in M.tb infection in Asian elephants.