The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Validation of Urine Test Strips to Measure Relative Ketone Body Levels in Wild Bornean Orangutans, Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii


1Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, 2Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, 3The Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, Rutgers University

April 16, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

The use of urine test strips (e.g. Roche Chemstrip®) has become the standard for quickly assessing the physiological condition and health of wild primates. These strips have been used to examine ketosis and fat catabolism in a number of taxa in their natural environments, including macaques, gibbons, gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees. However, the use of urine strips for determining ketosis has only been validated in human studies, and thus it remains unclear if these test strips accurately detect and quantify ketone bodies in non-human primates. We examined variation in ketone body concentration in samples collected as part of the Tuanan Orangutan Research Project that had tested positive (small, moderate, and large) and negative in the field using urine strips. The accuracy of this field method was tested using an enzyme-linked assay to determine the concentrations of acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate in stored urine samples. Preliminary results showed that there was significant variation among the qualitative levels (negative, small, moderate, large; p<0.0001) in the lab-based assay. Post-hoc tests revealed that although strips that tested positive for ketones in the field had significantly higher levels of ketones in the lab-based assay compared to those that tested negative (p=0.003), there were no significant differences between samples that tested “small” compared to “negative” (p=0.25). We conclude that urinary test strips provide a useful method for determining ketotic state in wild orangutans and likely other primates, but caution should be taken when interpreting results from samples within the “small” category.

This study was funded by USAID (APS-497-11-000001 to E.R.V)