Identifying the Disease‐Defining Autoantibodies in Canine Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is a common and life‐threatening disorder in dogs in which the body’s immune system destroys the outer layer of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce hormones that are critical for energy metabolism, immune system function, intestinal health, and kidney function. Symptoms of Addison’s disease can mimic other conditions, and as a result, many dogs remain undiagnosed for years.

About one‐third of dogs with Addison’s disease are diagnosed only after suffering an acute adrenal crisis, which can cause a wide range of complications that require emergency stabilization and hospitalization. Today, there is no way to predict which dogs will develop Addison’s disease before they become sick. If such a test were available, veterinarians would be able to evaluate high‐risk dogs before they show signs, helping to prevent disease‐related complications and potentially enabling earlier treatment.

In this study, the investigators will use a novel approach combining gene and protein sequencing to identify the antibodies that target the adrenal glands in Standard Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, and English Cocker Spaniels with Addison’s disease. These antibodies are produced by the immune system before the onset of clinical signs. The ability to identify these antibodies would therefore provide a test for early diagnosis.

This research will contribute to progress in developing an important clinical test for Addison’s disease that can help improve the lives of the many dogs at high risk of developing this life‐threatening condition.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 02428

For details and logistics of this project, to include eligibility criteria and how to enroll, please visit Dr. Friedenberg’s page for the Addison’s Disease – Autoantibody Study.


Steven Friedenberg, DVM, PhD
University of Minnesota
Amount: $30,000