Correlation between serum total globulins and gamma globulins and their use to diagnose failure of passive transfer in foals

Vet J. 2014 Nov;202(2):384-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.08.013. Epub 2014 Aug 19.


Various assays have been used as an aid to diagnose failure of passive transfer (FPT) of immunoglobulins in neonatal foals, but often lack sensitivity as screening tests, or are time consuming to perform and impractical as confirmatory tests. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether measurement of serum total globulins (TG; i.e. total protein minus albumin) can be used to estimate the electrophoretic gamma globulin (EGG) fraction in hospitalised neonatal foals with suspected FPT. Sample data from 56 foals were evaluated retrospectively. The coefficient of rank correlation was 0.84. The area under the curve of ROC analysis was 0.887, 0.922 and 0.930 for EGG concentrations <2 g/L, < 4 g/L and <8 g/L, respectively. Cut-offs for TG achieved ≥90% sensitivity for detecting EGG <2 g/L, < 4 g/L and <8 g/L, with negative predictive values of >97% and >94%, using prevalence of 15% and 30%, respectively. These results suggest that measurement of TG can be used as a guide to predicting EGG, provided that appropriate cut-off values are selected, and this technique could be a useful initial screening test for FPT in foals.

Keywords: Globulins; Horse; Immunoglobulins; Serum electrophoresis; Total protein.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / immunology*
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Horses / immunology*
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired*
  • Immunodiffusion / veterinary*
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • gamma-Globulins / metabolism


  • Immunoglobulins
  • gamma-Globulins