Serum samples were collected from 42 harpooned minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) during commercial whaling off the coast of northern Norway (1997 and 1998) and analyzed for serum chemistry parameters in order to find clinical reference values for the northeastern Atlantic stock of this species. Mean and median values, as well as standard deviation and 90% central range, are presented for 28 different serum chemistry parameters. Lipemia is a common finding in marine mammals such as the minke whale, and chemical analysis of lipemic serum samples may produce artifacts. We found statistically significant elevated values of total protein, globulin, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), sodium and chloride in strongly-lipemic compared to non-lipemic samples, all which may be artifacts due to interference of lipids with the methods used for analysis. In addition, we found significantly elevated levels of creatin kinase, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), urea, uric acid and triglycerides, as well as a decrease in creatinine in the strongly lipemic samples. Reanalyzing serum samples after twelve mo storage at −20 C (n = 13) revealed reduction in the serum concentration of the enzymes ALT (42%), alkaline phosphatase (ALP; 10%), LDH (19%), gamma glutamyl transferase (17%) and amylase (11%), as well as for triglycerides (9%) and non-esterified fatty acids (16%). It is crucial that serum chemistry analysis is performed without delay after sampling. Possible changes in the values of some parameters due to the presence of high amounts of lipids or long term storage of samples must be considered when interpreting results from serum chemistry analysis in these animals.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2