Significance of Symmetric Dimethylarginine in Evaluating Renal Insufficiency in Rehabilitated Wild Florida Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
IAAAM 2016
Lauren N. Smith1*; Ray L. Ball1
1Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, FL, USA


Renal compromise is a significant complication when rehabilitating debilitated, wild Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Many animals present malnourished, dehydrated, and may have sustained direct trauma to the kidneys via boat strikes or ischemic events. Clinicians are limited to analysis of serum urea nitrogen, creatinine levels, and urinalysis (if urine can be obtained) to determine the extent of renal insufficiency, which may not accurately reflect renal function like it does in other species. Serum creatinine has been shown to be significantly affected by outside factors such as food intake, food type, and environmental water salinity in Florida manatees.3 This poses a diagnostic challenge for clinicians in discerning how paramount renal compromise is to the animal's overall health and prognosis.

Symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) is proven to be an accurate measure of glomerular filtration rate, and has shown to be a reliable biomarker for early detection and monitoring of chronic kidney disease in humans, cats, and dogs.1,2,4 We retrospectively evaluated SDMA values in a population of ten wild Florida manatees at a rehabilitation facility whose post-mortem evaluations (including gross necropsy and/or histology) revealed renal damage. We compared these values to six wild Florida manatees without evidence of renal impairment on post-mortem exam to determine statistical significance. Preliminary data revealed a positive correlation between serum creatinine and SDMA, which we hypothesize indicates clinical utility of SDMA for renal compromise in manatees. This study was pursued to determine the diagnostic value of SDMA in wild Florida manatees undergoing rehabilitation.


The authors wish to thank the Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo veterinary team members, including Michelle Devlin, Heather Henry, and Ryan O'Shea; the Florida Mammals keeper staff; and Martine de Wit and the staff at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Mammal Pathology Laboratory.

* Presenting author

Literature Cited

1.  Hall JA, Yerramilli M, Obare E, Yerramilli M, Jewell DE. Comparison of serum concentrations of symmetric dimethylarginine and creatinine as kidney function biomarkers in cats with chronic kidney disease. J Vet Intern Med. 2014;28:1676–1683.

2.  Hall JA, Yerramilli M, Obare E, Yerramilli M, Melendez LD, Jewell DE. Relationship between lean body mass and renal biomarkers in healthy dogs. J Vet Intern Med. 2015;29:808–814.

3.  Manire CA, Walsh CJ, Rhinehart HL, Colbert DE, Noyes DR, Luer CA. Alterations in blood and urine parameters in two Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) from simulated conditions of release following rehabilitation. Zoo Biol. 2003;22:103–120.

4.  Nabity MB, Lees GE, Boggess MM, Yerramilli M, Obare E, Yerramilli M, Rakitin A, Aguiar J, Relford R. Symmetric dimethylarginine assay validation, stability, and evaluation as a marker for the early detection of chronic kidney disease in dogs. J Vet Intern Med. 2015;29:1036–1044.


Speaker Information
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Lauren N. Smith, DVM
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Tampa, FL, USA

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