Odd haemoglobins in odd-toed ungulates: Impact of selected haemoglobin characteristics of the white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) on the monitoring of the arterial oxygen saturation of haemoglobin

Autoři: Julia K. Reiners aff001;  Nadja Hellmann aff002;  Juliane Schmidt aff002;  Sabine B. R. Kästner aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Foundation, Hanover, Germany aff001;  Institute for Molecular Biophysics, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226851



Due to the current poaching crisis in Africa, increasing numbers of white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum) require opioid immobilisation for medical interventions or management procedures. Alarmingly, the results of both blood gas analysis and pulse oximetry regularly indicate severe hypoxaemia. Yet, the recovery of the animals is uneventful. Thus, neither of the techniques seems to represent the real oxygenation level. We hypothesized that unusual haemoglobin characteristics of this species interfere with the techniques developed and calibrated for the use in human patients.


Haemoglobin was isolated from blood samples of four adult, white rhinoceroses. Oxygen dissociation curves at pH 7.2 and 7.4 (37°C) were determined based on the absorbance change of haemoglobin in the Soret-region (around 420 nm). Absorbance spectra of oxy- and deoxyhaemoglobin extending into the infrared region were measured.


Oxygen dissociation curves of rhinoceros haemoglobin showed the typical high oxygen affinity (p50 of 2.75 ± 0.07 and 2.00 ± 0.04 kPa for pH 7.2 and 7.4, respectively) under near-physiological conditions with respect to pH, temperature and DPG. The infrared absorbance spectra of oxy- and deoxyhaemoglobin showed only marginal deviations from standard human spectra, possibly due to the presence of a few percent of methaemoglobin in vitro.


Our data enables the development of a rhinoceros-specific blood gas analysis algorithm, which allows for species-specific calculation of SaO2 levels in anaesthetized animals. The inconspicuous absorbance spectra do not contribute to the systematic underestimation of SpO2 by pulse-oximetry.

Klíčová slova:

Algorithms – Blood – Domestic animals – Horses – Chemical dissociation – Opioids – Oxygen – Gas analysis


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