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News Article

Biomarker for liver disease in dogs

Blood test quickly identifies early signs of liver disease

Research at the University of Edinburgh has led to the development of a new blood test for liver disease in dogs. The test, based on insights gained from treating human patients, could help vets identify damage and start treatment early.

Diagnosing canine liver disease is challenging and catching early signs of damage is key to its treatment. Current diagnosis is based on biopsies, which are expensive and can lead to complications.

The researchers looked at blood levels of microRNA‐122 (miR-122) in dogs. This molecule is a sensitive and specific biomarker of liver injury in humans and rodents. Serum miR‐122 concentrations were measured in 250 dogs, including 120 healthy dogs, 100 dogs with non-liver diseases, and 30 dogs with histologically confirmed liver disease.

Dogs with liver disease were found to have significantly higher levels of a miR-122 compared with healthy dogs and dogs with a different disease that did not affect the liver. The research is published in Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

The plan is to launch a testing kit to help vets worldwide to quickly assess if dogs have liver damage.

Lead veterinary researcher, Professor Richard Mellanby, Head of Companion Animal Sciences at The Hospital for Small Animals at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We have found a specific, sensitive and non-invasive way to detect liver damage in dogs. We hope that our test will greatly improve outcomes by allowing vets to make rapid and accurate diagnosis.”

Dr James Dear, Reader at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cardiovascular Science and NHS doctor, who co-led the study, said: “'I am delighted that the blood test we developed to improve the diagnosis of liver disease in humans can be used to help dogs too.”

Read article: Sensitivity and specificity of microRNA‐122 for liver disease in dogs by W. Oosthuyzen, P.W.L. Ten Berg, B. Francis, S. Campbell, V. Macklin, E. Milne, A. G. Gow, C. Fisher, R.J. Mellanby and J.W. Dear, published in Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, online 2 August 2018, doi: 10.1111/jvim.15250

Article details

  • Date
  • 06 August 2018
  • Source
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals