Plasma protein electrophoresis is recognized as a reliable diagnostic tool in avian medicine; however, the influence of circannual phenomena such as molt on protein electrophoregrams is poorly documented. The molt is a period of heavy hormonal and metabolic change in birds. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of molt on total protein concentration and electrophoresis patterns in birds. Blood samples were taken from 19 Bar-headed Geese (Anser indicus) from mid-May to mid-August, at 15-day intervals. At the same time, molting stage of each bird was recorded. Total protein concentrations were measured and plasma agarose gel electrophoresis was performed on these samples. The Bar-headed Goose was chosen as a model, because they molt over a very short period. The total protein concentration and albumin, alpha-2, beta, and gamma fractions were at their minimum values during molt, whereas the prealbumin and alpha-1 fractions rose to their maximum levels. This study provides baseline information relevant to changes occurring in avian proteinograms throughout the molt. The increase in prealbumin and alpha-1 fractions may be related to an increase in plasma thyroid hormones during molt. The decrease observed in albumin, alpha-2, beta, and gamma fractions may be related to protein and energy shifts toward feather growth, as well as to an expansion of the circulatory system located around the feather follicles with secondary dilutional effects on protein fractions. From a clinical point of view, the observed changes associated with molting were less significant than initially expected, and would not likely results in incorrect diagnoses based on interpretation of the protein electrophoretic patterns.
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Vol. 45 • No. 3