Researchers find condition in dogs that may help further research into human disease

Jul 09, 2013

Some people possess a small number of cells in their bodies that are not genetically their own; this condition is known as microchimerism. It is difficult to determine potential health effects from this condition because of humans' relatively long life-spans. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that microchimerism can be found in dogs as well. Jeffrey Bryan, an associate professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and director of Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory, says this discovery will help doctors determine what diseases humans with microchimerism may be more likely to develop during their lifetimes.

"Dogs have a much shorter lifespan than humans, which allows us, as researchers, to better monitor what diseases they may develop throughout their entire lives," Bryan said. "We already have some evidence that microchimerism may increase risk of while lowering the risk of in women. Finding microchimerism in dogs allows us to track this condition over a of about 10 years, as opposed to the 70 or 80 years of a human life. This will make it much easier to determine any increased risk of or protection from other diseases brought on by microchimerism."

"Our study demonstrates that male microchimerism of probable fetal origin occurs in the pet dog population," said Sandra Axiak-Bechtel, an assistant professor of at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. "Evidence exists in women that fetal microchimerism may have conflicting roles in disease formation. The pet dog represents an excellent model of many in people, and the presence of fetal microchimerism in dogs will allow studies which further clarify its role in health and disease."

Microchimerism most often occurs when a mother gives birth to a child. Sometimes, cells from that child are left in the mothers' body and continue to live, despite being of a different than surrounding cells. Those cells can then be passed on to other children the mother may have later. Cells also can be passed on through blood transfusions as well as bone marrow and organ transplants.

In their study published in PLOS ONE, Bryan and Axiak-Bechtel, along with MU researchers Senthil Kumar, a co-investigator in this study and assistant research professor and assistant director of the Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory, and Sara Hansen, a comparative medicine resident at MU, studied 90 golden retrievers and found that 36 percent of the dogs had microchimerism. Closer to 40 percent of female dogs that were at least eight years post-pregnancy had the condition.

Axiak-Bechtel, Bryan, and Kumar plan on continuing their research to follow the lifespans of dogs with microchimerism to determine to what diseases those dogs may be susceptible. Bryan and Kumar also received a new grant for more than $400,000 to study epigenetic biomarkers in dogs, which will ultimately enhance diagnosis and treatment of dogs with cancer.

Explore further: Human and canine lymphomas share molecular similarities, first large-scale comparison shows

More information: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068114

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Men on the mind: Study finds male DNA in women's brains

Sep 26, 2012

Male DNA is commonly found in the brains of women, most likely derived from prior pregnancy with a male fetus, according to first-of-its-kind research conducted at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. ...

Man's best friend

Jun 21, 2013

People have an innate need to establish close relationships with other people. But this natural bonding behaviour is not confined to humans: many animals also seem to need relationships with others of their ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...