Pattern of Thyroid Function Tests during Recovery from Acute Nonthyroidal Illness

Hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine disease in dogs. A diagnosis of hypothyroidism relies on finding both appropriate clinical signs and low thyroid hormone levels. Unfortunately, other illnesses can suppress thyroid hormone levels and result in a misdiagnosis. This phenomenon of low thyroid hormone levels caused by a disease not involving the thyroid gland is known as nonthyroidal illness or euthyroid sick syndrome. It is important to distinguish between nonthyroidal illness and hypothyroidism as the treatment for each is different. Historically, the recommendation for a dog with nonthyroidal illness has been to resolve the underlying disease, followed by a recheck of thyroid hormone levels thereafter. However, the duration of time after resolution of the nonthyroidal illness necessary to perform accurate thyroid hormone level testing is unknown. This study will provide information about thyroid hormone levels during the course of nonthyroidal illness, and also establish the approximate duration of time for recovery of thyroid hormone levels to normal following illness resolution. These results will correlate clinically with more concrete recommendations for thyroid hormone level testing following resolution of nonthyroidal illness.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 02686-A


Timothy Bolton, ; Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Amount: $5,000

Molecular Analysis of Giant Schnauzer-Type Congenital Hypothyroidism

Isolated congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is a condition occurring at or near birth characterized by insufficient thyroid hormone production. The disorder in purebred dogs is usually inherited and leads to dwarfism and mental dullness.

CH in giant schnauzers (GS) was first described in 1991 (Greco, et al) as a likely autosomal recessive disorder due to failed activity of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. Since then the investigators have studied GS CH in three widely separated families and found pituitary failure of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) production beginning at birth in most affected dogs, but not until several months of age in a few. They mapped the genetic locus to a region of dog chromosome 28.

The researchers will now perform DNA sequencing experiments of affected dogs and their parents and candidate variants will be assessed further by Sanger sequencing in all available members of the three families, as well as a large number of GS DNA samples available in the OFA CHIC repository. A successful outcome will lead to a reliable genetic test for GS CH, increased understanding of an essential pituitary function, and illumination of a highly similar condition reported in miniature schnauzers.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 02342


John C Fyfe, DVM PhD
Michigan State University
Amount: $2,000

Recombinant Thyrotropin (TSH)

Standard for the Next Generation of Canine TSH Immunoassays With Improved Sensitivity

Overall, this research project completed the genetic phase of the project and are reproducibly producing reasonable quantities of recombinant canine TSH in vitro and purifying it with high recovery to high purity. In the future, this standard can serve as a reproducible standard for all available canine TSH assays. Although the researchers did not succeed with the development of a permanent cell line expression canine TSH, the transient expressions in PEAK cells and purification procedures have resulted in hundreds of micrograms of pure canine TSH devoid of contaminating LH and FSH. The data support the importance of the lack of standard cross-contamination with these more abundant but structurally related pituitary glyoprotein hormones. The research also pursued the promising development of antibody titers against TSH in 2 immunized mice. Unfortunately, neither of the animals resulted in a successful result: the positive hybridomas from one mouse were contaminated in the UGA monoclonal antibody facility, and the positive clones from the other mouse did not result in permanently positive clones.


In summary, using the currently available pairing of the 14H9 monoclonal antibody with a limited quantity of anti-cTSH polyclonal antibody, the researchers have developed a canine TSH immunoassay with an IRMA format, but the assay in this format does not appear to be more sensitive than the current commercial canine TSH assay. However, the use of highly purified recombinant canine TSH does provide an improvement over the use of pituitary source TSH inevitably contaminated by LH and FSH. Such contamination provided by pituitary source glycohormones could theoretically be more problematic for accurate measurement of TSH in the cycling bitch.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 0002434


Duncan Ferguson, DVM, PhD
University of Georgia