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DETAILED HAEMATOLOGY / BIOCHEMISTRY - Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment (Editorial Overview Text Replicated on Overall Species page - Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog)

Recorded blood values vary with age, sex, stage of hibernation and anaesthetic drugs used. 

HAEMATOLOGY:

BIOCHEMISTRY:

(References are available in detailed literature reports below)

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Haematology

Source Information SUMMARY:
  • See Reference Page:
  • Recorded blood values vary with age, sex, stage of hibernation and anaesthetic drugs used.
  • Typical changes during hibernation include reduced blood volume, reduced red blood cell count and haematocrit during hibernation, increased platelet count and dramatic reduction in white cell count.

General:

  • Several factors have been found to affect blood value parameters including age, sex, stage of hibernation and anaesthetic drug used. (B228.6.w6)

Red blood cells, haematocrit, blood volume:

  • Change in haematological parameters have been described during hibernation affecting red blood cell count, blood haemoglobin content and haematocrit values. (B228.6.w6)
    • The blood volume of hedgehogs is reduced during hibernation in contrast with the active season. (B228.6.w6)
    • In one study the blood erythrocyte count and haematocrit, measured at intervals over the year, were found to be highest (14.52 +/- 0.15 x106/mm3 and 50.50% +/- 7.20%) in March during hibernation; figures for hibernating hedgehogs in January-February were (average) 11.32 x106/mm3 and 37.42%. For awake animals measurements of blood erythrocyte count and haematocrit between May and October varied between (averages) 10.12-11.67 x106/mm3 and 38.21-40.00% respectively. Samples from "awake" animals were taken under ether anaesthesia. Possible explanations for the rise in blood cell count were considered to be a decrease in blood volume, extended red blood cell life in hibernating hedgehogs and (in combination with this) returning erythropoietic activity in bone marrow in animals in early spring in preparation for the active season. (J201.198.w1)
    • Sequential blood samples taken while a hedgehog moved from deep hibernation to arousal and back into hibernation found that the red blood cell count and haematocrit both started to rise as arousal began and to fall again as the hedgehog began to return to deep hibernation. The leucocyte count did not start to rise until later in the arousal cycle and dropped again sharply as the animal began to return to deep hibernation. (J201.158.w1, J201.198.w1)
    • In one study the haematocrit and haemoglobin concentration of male hedgehogs were higher than those of females except in mid-winter; the difference was greatest in spring and summer and decreased towards autumn. Both values rose during deep hibernation. (J201.110.w1)
    • The haematocrit fell slightly in hibernating animals in mid-winter: 37.4% for hibernating animals versus 40.9% (female) or 43.0% (male) for awake animals in September and as high as 48.1% in awake males in spring. (J201.158.w1)

White blood cells:

  • Significant alterations in the distribution of white blood cells has been shown to occur during hibernation although the reasons for this shift are ill understood. Leucocytes migrate from the circulation into aggregates in "the lymph glands, the lungs, the connective tissue around the gut, and around the pancreatic and bile ducts" and around larger blood vessels. (B228.6.w6)
  • As a consequence of the white blood cell shift, blood leucocyte counts are reported to decrease dramatically during hibernation with rapid return to normal values following arousal. (B228.6.w6)
  • White blood cell counts fell sharply during hibernation (leucopaenia): from greater than 18000/mm3 in awake animals in October to approximately 4000-5000mm3 during hibernation October to March. The lymphocyte percentage was highest in May (52.7) and lowest in hibernating animals in October (13.7%). (J201.198.w1)

Platelets:

  • A study has shown a two fold increase in the number of blood platelets during hibernation (875,000 per ml) in contrast to the active season. (B228.6.w6)

(B228.6.w6, J9.141.w1, J201.95.w1, J201.110.w1, J201.158.w1, J201.171.w1, J201.198.w1, J205.S380.w5, J205.S380.w8, J205.83.w1)

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Biochemistry

Source Information SUMMARY:

General:

  • Several factors have been found to affect blood value parameters including age, sex, stage of hibernation and anaesthetic drug use. (B228.6.w6)

Protein:

  • Levels of serum protein are not found to vary significantly between the active season and hibernation, although a study has reported a reduction of the gamma-globulin fraction during the winter (June 0.90 g per 100 ml; January 0.52 g per 100 ml). (B228.6.w6)
    • In one study total protein levels in serum showed a seasonal cycle, being highest in hedgehogs in deep hibernation in mid-winter and lower in awake animals in spring. (average 8.47 g/100 ml versus 6.9 g/100 ml). The albumin fraction of the serum proteins was increased in hedgehogs during late autumn and in hibernation; it was noted that this has also been seen in other hibernating species. Gamma-globulins did not change significantly in individuals in deep hibernation although they were slightly lower in hibernating animals than in awake animals in late autumn or in spring. (J201.158.w1)

Glucose:

  • Studies of blood glucose level have shown that although considerable variation exists, normal levels during the active season (125 mg per 100 ml) decrease significantly during hibernation (54 mg per 100 ml) and increase once again at the time of arousal. (B228.6.w6)
    • In one study blood glucose decreased by 54% to 38 mg/100 ml (average) from autumn to winter, hibernating, levels. There was also a smaller decrease from spring to summer (approximately 32% fall). (J205.S380.w8)
    • A study showed that blood glucose levels in active hedgehogs rise from May (97.7 mg/100 ml) to September (136.2 mg/100 ml), fall shortly before the hibernation season (101.6 mg% in October) and fall considerably in hibernating animals: 70.4% in hibernating hedgehogs in November with a fall to 62.3 mg/100 ml by February and 37.9 mg/100 ml in hibernating animals in March-April. Animals maintained awake did not show this fall in blood glucose while a fall was seen in animals induced into hibernation in August. (J201.171.w1)

Urea:

  • Blood urea levels do not increase significantly during hibernation. (B228.6.w6)
    • The blood urea level of hibernating hedgehogs was lower than that found in awake individuals outside the hibernation season. (J201.96.w1)
    • The plasma urea levels in hibernating hedgehogs was measured as 23.8 mM compared to 20.3 mM in active hedgehogs. (J205.83.w1)

Creatine and creatinine:

  • Creatine and creatinine levels increase from summer to autumn as the ambient temperature falls. The creatine level in animals in deep hibernation falls and levels of both compounds fall towards the end of the hibernation season (measurements taken during deep hibernation). Elevated creatine levels are found in the blood in awake animals in spring. During arousal there are marked changes: the creatine level rises markedly as the animal arouses and falls again as the animal re-enters deep hibernation. (J201.95.w1)

Electrolytes:

  • Analysis of the levels of blood electrolytes during hibernation has produced inconsistent values; the mechanisms for this variation are poorly understood. (B228.6.w6)
    • The magnesium content of serum was found to increase during hibernation, from 3.20 (range 2.90-3.55, n=7) mgm per cent prior to hibernation to 5.43 (range 4.90-6.05, n=6) mgm per cent in early January (170% of the autumn level). (J9.141.w1)
    • The calcium level of serum varied little with hibernation, changing from 10.0 mgm per cent (range 9.2-10.6, n=6) in autumn prior to hibernation to 10.2 (range 9.6-10.7, n=7) mgm per cent in early January. (J9.141.w1)
    • In one study, serum sodium and potassium were slightly lowered during hibernation while calcium was slightly raised. It was noted that other studies had different results, such as a lack of a seasonal change in sodium, an increase in potassium and no change in potassium. The raised calcium level was considered to be consistent with the results of other studies. It was noted that there may be technical reasons such as red blood cell lysis after sampling for the variability in results for sodium and potassium levels. (J205.S380.w5)

(B228.6.w6, J9.141.w1, J201.95.w1, J201.110.w1, J201.158.w1, J201.171.w1, J201.198.w1, J205.S380.w5, J205.S380.w8, J205.83.w1)

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Authors & Referees

Authors Becki Lawson (V.w26); Debra Bourne (V.w5)
Referee Suzanne I. Boardman (V.w6); Nigel Reeve (V.w57)

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