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  • Author or Editor: Elizabeth R. Hetler x
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Objective—To establish the diagnostic significance of the telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay in detecting feline malignancies.

Sample Population—Solid tissue specimens collected from 33 client-owned cats undergoing diagnostic or therapeutic procedures at the University of Illinois Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital between July 1997 and September 1999 and an additional 20 tissue samples were collected from 3 clinically normal control cats euthanatized at the conclusion of an unrelated study.

Procedure—The TRAP assay was used for detection of telomerase activity. Each result was compared to its respective histopathologic diagnosis.

Results—Twenty-nine of 31 malignant and 1 of 22 benign or normal tissue samples had telomerase activity, indicating 94% sensitivity and 95% specificity of the TRAP assay in our laboratory.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—The diagnostic significance of telomerase activity has been demonstrated in humans and recently in dogs by our laboratory. We tested feline samples to determine whether similar patterns of telomerase activity exist. On the basis of our results, the TRAP assay may be clinically useful in providing a rapid diagnosis of malignancy in cats. The telomerase enzyme may also serve as a therapeutic target in feline tumors. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:1578–1581)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine the mean telomere restriction fragment (TRF) length in normal and neoplastic canine tissues.

Sample Population—57 solid-tissue tumor specimens collected from client-owned dogs, 40 samples of normal tissue collected from 12 clinically normal dogs, and blood samples collected from 4 healthy blood donor dogs.

Procedures—Tumor specimens were collected from client-owned dogs during diagnostic or therapeutic procedures at the University of Illinois Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, whereas 40 normal tissue samples were collected from 12 control dogs. Telomere restriction fragment length was determined by use of an assay kit. A histologic diagnosis was provided for each tumor by personnel at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Illinois.

Results—Mean of the mean TRF length for 44 normal samples was 19.0 kilobases (kb; range, 15.4 to 21.4 kb), and the mean of the mean TRF length for 57 malignant tumors was 19.0 kb (range, 12.9 to 23.5 kb). Although the mean of the mean TRF length for tumors and normal tissues was identical, tumor samples had more variability in TRF length.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Telomerase, which represents the main mechanism by which cancer cells achieve immortality, is an attractive therapeutic target. The ability to measure telomere length is crucial to monitoring the efficacy of telomerase inhibition. In contrast to many other mammalian species, the length of canine telomeres and the rate of telomeric DNA loss are similar to those reported in humans, making dogs a compelling choice for use in the study of human antitelomerase strategies.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research