Distribution of tissue enzymes in three species of pinnipeds

Deborah A. Fauquier, Jonna A Mazet, Frances M D Gulland, Terry R. Spraker, Mary M Christopher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In domestic animal medicine, changes in serum enzyme levels are routinely used as diagnostic tools to detect liver disease. Hepatic disease occurs in pinnipeds, but limited data are available on the tissue distribution of serum enzymes in marine mammals. The objectives of this study were to determine the tissue distribution of seven serum enzymes in three pinniped species. Enzymes evaluated were alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), sorbitol dehydrogenase (SDH), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine kinase (CK), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) in tissues from California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) (n = 5), harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) (n = 5), and northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) (n = 5) that stranded and then died at a rehabilitation center. Samples were evaluated in duplicate from liver, skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, kidney, adrenal, spleen, pancreas, lung, lymph node, and intestine. Patterns of tissue enzyme distribution were similar in all species, with SDH activity highest in liver and kidney, CK activity highest in skeletal and cardiac muscle, ALP activity highest in adrenal, and GGT activity highest in the kidney. Aspartate aminotransferase and LDH activities were less specific, with high activity in multiple tissues. Tissue ALT activity was high in the liver of all species, but was also high in cardiac muscle (California sea lions), skeletal muscle (harbor seals), and kidney (elephant seals). These results suggest that concurrent analysis of SDH, ALT, and CK would provide high specificity and sensitivity for the detection of hepatic lesions, and allow differentiation of liver from skeletal muscle lesions in pinniped species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Alanine aminotransferase
  • Creatine kinase
  • Liver enzymes
  • Liver pathology
  • Pinnipeds
  • Sorbitol dehydrogenase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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