Doberman pinschers may soon benefit from the early detection of a serious and sometimes fatal progressive inflammatory disease of the liver, thanks to a new study funded by the Morris Animal Foundation.
The research, led by Hille Fieten, PhD, DVM, an assistant professor in the department of clinical sciences at Utrecht University (the Netherlands), aims to identify genetic changes that influence the development of chronic hepatitis in the breed. These results could, ultimately, help Doberman breeders make better informed breeding decisions, Morris Animal Foundation reports. Veterinary researchers will work with banked study samples to look for biomarkers of the disease with the goal of developing an early detection test.
“As a clinician, you often feel powerless when you see these patients in clinic,” Dr. Fieten says. “If we can successfully identify DNA mutations and biomarkers associated with disease, it could lead to more insights on disease development. This might not only be useful for the Doberman, but also for other dogs that suffer from similar forms of hepatitis.”
Unlike many hepatitis cases in people, the disease in Dobermans is not viral in origin but, rather, most likely due to destruction of the liver by the dog’s own immune system. Unfortunately, by the time of diagnosis, liver destruction already is advanced. Medication can slow the disease and improve quality of life, but cures are rare.
“Hepatitis is a serious but often overlooked disease of dogs, including Dobermans,” says Morris Animal Foundation’s vice-president of scientific operations, Kathy Tietje, PhD, MBA. “This study has the potential to provide new insights into this important problem and identify disease susceptibility earlier, which can lead to better clinical outcomes for these dogs.”