Addison's Disease

Two poodlesAddison’s disease (also referred to as primary hypoadrenocorticism) is an immune-mediated disease in dogs and humans in which the body attacks the outer layer of the adrenal glands, which are small organs near the kidneys. This leads to a deficiency in key hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) which regulate responses to stress and water/electrolyte balance. Dogs often present with waxing and waning gastrointestinal signs, a finicky appetite, or generalized lethargy. In some cases, dogs present to veterinarians in a shock state, which can be life-threatening if the consequences of Addison’s disease are not recognized promptly and treated. Therapy for Addison’s disease is available, but requires lifelong commitment by owners with hormone replacement therapy (typically a monthly injection and daily pills).

Dr. Steven Friedenberg and the Canine Genetics Laboratory at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine are working to identify gene mutations responsible for the development of Addison’s disease in dogs. Our goal is to use this research to better understand the disease mechanism and disease triggers, and also to develop a test that can help breeders decrease the incidence of the disease.

Breeds

  • We are currently recruiting both affected and unaffected English Cocker Spaniels and Standard Poodles

  • We are also actively recruiting affected dogs of any breed, but are particularly interested in samples from affected Labradoodles and Goldendoodles.

Requirements to participate

Affected dogs

  • Dogs of any age with a diagnosis of Addison’s disease
  • Documentation of the diagnosis with an ACTH stimulation test and an abnormal serum sodium:potassium ratio
  • Your willingness to volunteer a blood sample from your dog for genetics research

Unaffected dogs

  • Minimum of 10 years of age
  • No history of Addison’s disease, or any other autoimmune disease
  • Your willingness to volunteer a blood sample from your dog for genetics research

Study information for owners

Please contact Dr. Friedenberg (or have your veterinarian contact him) at fried255@umn.edu if you are interested in having your dog donate a blood sample. Dr. Friedenberg will discuss with you whether your dog is a candidate for the study, and obtain the necessary medical records from either you or your dog’s veterinarian.

If your dog meets the criteria for the study, we will send your veterinarian a prepaid shipping label to send us a blood sample from your dog at our expense. You can then schedule a brief appointment with your veterinarian for a blood draw. After the visit, your veterinarian will send the blood sample to us, along with a consent form and any relevant medical records.

Please also bring a copy of your dog’s pedigree to your veterinarian if you have a copy, however this is not strictly necessary. You can also e-mail it to Dr. Friedenberg directly.

Study information for veterinarians

If you have any clients who you think would be interested in participating in our study, or if your client has approached you about this study, the following information should be helpful.

We are studying the genetic basis of Addison’s disease in dogs. We are interested in collecting DNA samples from affected and unaffected English Cocker Spaniels and Standard Poodles, as well as affected dogs of any breed. We are particularly interested in samples from affected Labradoodles and Goldendoodles.

Affected Dog Inclusion Criteria

  • Flat ACTH stimulation test
  • Pre-treatment electrolytes documenting an abnormal serum Na:K ratio (typical Addison’s only)
  • Typical or atypical dogs qualify
  • No age restrictions
  • Dogs can be receiving treatment for Addison’s disease (or other conditions) the time of study enrollment

Unaffected Dog Inclusion Criteria

  • At least 10 years of age
  • No history of Addison’s disease, or any other autoimmune disease


For all dogs, we require 4-5 mL of blood in 1 or 2 EDTA/purple top tubes for isolation of DNA, a copy of the study consent form, and a pedigree if available.

For affected dogs, we also require medical records confirming the diagnosis of Addison’s disease (ACTH stimulation test and pre-treatment electrolytes).

For unaffected dogs, we require an additional 1 mL of serum. We will run a baseline cortisol on the dog at the University of Minnesota to rule out Addison’s disease (the study will pay for the cost of this test). In some cases, if the baseline cortisol is less than 2 mg/dL, we may be able to pay for an ACTH stimulation test to definitively rule out Addison’s disease; performing the ACTH stimulation test is at our discretion.

If you have any clients meeting the above criteria who might be interested in donating a blood sample for genetics research, please e-mail Dr. Steven Friedenberg at fried255@umn.edu with your contact details and we will arrange a time to discuss the case. If your patient qualifies, we will send you a prepaid shipping label to send us the blood sample(s) at our expense. We will provide you with further shipping details once we ensure that your patient is a good candidate for the study.

    Thank you very much for your interest in our genetic study – we genuinely appreciate your assistance with this important research!

    English cocker spaniel

     

    Funding

    Funding for this research is graciously provided by the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Health & Rescue Organization, the Poodle Club of America Foundation, as well as internal grants from the University of Minnesota.

    About the investigator

    Dr. Friedenberg is a board-certified veterinary critical care specialist and a geneticist, and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. He became interested in genetic diseases while working for Dr. Rory Todhunter at Cornell University as a vet student, and developed a particular interest in autoimmune diseases during his residency training at The Ohio State University. He holds a PhD in genetics from North Carolina State University, and is very interested in computational biology and its applications to finding better ways to diagnose, prevent, and treat genetic disorders.

    Canine Genetics Lab Home & Contact Info

    Canine Genetics Lab Home & Contact Info

     HOME

    Canine Genetics Lab
    University of Minnesota
    1988 Fitch Ave
    AS/VM 295
    St. Paul, MN 55108

    cgl@umn.edu

    612.624.5322

    Submission Form and Protocol

    Submission Form and Protocol

    Addison's Disease Consent Form

    Please contact Dr. Friedenberg (or have your veterinarian contact him) at fried255@umn.edu if you are interested in having your dog donate a blood sample.