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

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