Genetic and Environmental Risk for Lymphoma in Boxer Dogs

Lymphoma is a fatal cancer of the blood cells that can occur in any dog. Lymphoma is more common in Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and several other purebreds, which suggests involvement of inherited genes. Recent research has focused on gene mutations in the tumors of dogs with lymphoma. However, we do not understand why these mutations accumulate in certain dogs, and this understanding is essential for disease prevention.

Canine lymphoma resembles Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in humans, which is more common in industrialized countries and is associated with chemicals found in tobacco smoke, certain household products, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs) are enzymes that can break down toxic chemicals in the body and prevent tumor mutations. Inherited gene defects in the 3 major GST enzymes, GST-theta, GST-pi and GST-mu, each increase NHL risk, and simultaneous defects in more than one enzyme further increase NHL risk.

The investigators have characterized two GST-theta enzymes in dogs, and both have defective gene variants. So far, their findings suggest one variant is a risk factor for lymphoma in dogs of varying breeds. However, the genes for canine GST-pi and GST-mu enzymes have not yet been explored.

This research will determine whether defective GST genes along with certain household and yard chemicals are associated with lymphoma in dogs, with a focus on the high-risk Boxer breed. The overall goal of this study is to identify combinations of genes and environmental chemicals that contribute to the development of lymphoma in dogs, so that better cancer prevention strategies can be developed.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 02318


Dr. Lauren A Trepanier, DVM PhD
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Amount: $10,000