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  • Author or Editor: Joanna Dukes McEwan x
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Objective—To evaluate morphologic changes in valvular interstitial cells of dogs and to find evidence for disease-associated phenotypic changes in these cells.

Animals—5 clinically normal dogs and 5 dogs with severe mitral valve endocardiosis.

Procedure—Mitral valve leaflets were evaluated by use of transmission electron microscopy. Differences in cell type and cell location were identified.

Results—A change in cell type toward a myofibroblast or smooth muscle cell phenotype was detected, with the smooth muscle cell type being most common. These cells had long amorphous cytoplasmic extensions, fibrillar cytoplasm, incomplete basal lamina, few mitochondria, and eccentrically placed nuclei but lacked smooth endoplasmic reticulum or Golgi complexes. Remaining valvular interstitial cells had heterochromatic nuclei and produced only minimal quantities of collagen. Compared with normal valves, myxomatous valves had many interstitial-like cells located adjacent to the endothelium. Deeper within the abnormal valves, cells with a heterogenous phenotype formed groupings that appeared to be anchored to adjacent collagen.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Myxomatous degeneration of the mitral valve in dogs is associated with phenotypic alteration, changing from an interstitial to a mixed myofibroblast or smooth muscle cell phenotype. A closer association between interstitial cells and the endothelium is evident in diseased valves. In response to the disease process, valvular interstitial cells of dogs appear to change toward a smooth muscle phenotype, possibly in an attempt to maintain valve tone and mechanical function. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1408–1414)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To describe structural changes in the left atrioventricular (mitral) valve complex of dogs with endocardiosis by use of scanning electron microscopy.

Animals—5 clinically normal dogs and 4 dogs with mitral valve endocardiosis.

Procedure—The mitral valve complex from each dog was fixed and prepared for examination via scanning electron microscopy. Findings in valves from clinically normal and affected dogs were compared to identify surface changes associated with endocardiosis.

Results—Compared with findings in valves from clinically normal dogs, endocardiosis-affected mitral valve complexes had several morphologic abnormalities. Tissue swelling on the edge of valve leaflets, chordae tendineae, and the chordal-papillary muscle junction was evident. Damage to the valve complex endothelium was unevenly distributed; in some areas, denudation of endothelial cells had exposed the basement membrane or subendothelial valve collagen matrix. This damage was most noticeable on the leaflet edges and extended more to the ventricular aspect of the valve than the atrial side. Cell loss also extended to the chordae tendineae but was less apparent at the chordal-papillary muscle junction. The remaining endothelial cells on affected valves were arranged in less-ordered rows and had more plasmalemmal microappendages, compared with cells on unaffected valves.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Morphologic changes associated with mitral valve endocardiosis in dogs were similar to those observed in humans with mitral valve prolapse. In dogs with mitral valve endocardiosis, gross changes in the valve complex may affect hemodynamics in the heart; alterations in the leaflet and chordal endothelium may contribute to pathogenesis of this disease. (Am J Vet Res 2004; 65:198–206)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research



To assess the feasibility and repeatability of measuring ultrasonic integrated backscatter in unsedated conscious dogs, using a protocol previously validated in pigs with open thorax.


11 clinically normal conscious unsedated German Shorthair Pointers.


A modified commercially available echocardiography system was used to record long-axis views of the heart. The radiofrequency data from 15 consecutive frames were digitized and analyzed. Regions of interest were chosen within the myocardium, and the ultrasonic integrated backscatter within each region was calculated in the time domain for each frame.


Cyclic variation in integrated backscatter values was observed, with maximal values at end-diastole and minimal values at end-systole. Mean ± SD amplitude of cyclic variation was 5.81 ± 3.86 dB over all the regions chosen.


Results agreed with those obtained by other investigators working with dogs with open thorax and those with closed thorax while under general anesthesia. The analysis of the components of variance indicates that this is a consistent, reliable technique in conscious unsedated dogs.

Clinical Relevance

Integrated ultrasonic backscatter measurement provides a noninvasive means of tissue characterization. Use of this protocol reliably yields cyclic variation in integrated backscatter and could be applied clinically to dogs with myocardial disease. (Am J Vet Res 1997;58:1055–1059)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To compare the degree of mRNA expression for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), tissue inhibitors (TIMPs), and lysyl oxidase in myocardial samples from dogs with cardiac and systemic diseases and from healthy control dogs.

Sample—Myocardial samples from the atria, ventricles, and septum of 8 control dogs, 6 dogs with systemic diseases, 4 dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), and 5 dogs with other cardiac diseases.

Procedures—Degrees of mRNA expression for MMP-1, -2, -3, -9, and -13; TIMP-1, -2, -3, and -4; and lysyl oxidase were measured via quantitative real-time PCR assay. Histologic examination of the hearts was performed to identify pathological changes.

Results—In myocardial samples from control dogs, only TIMP-3 and TIMP-4 mRNA expression was detected, with a significantly higher degree in male versus female dogs. In dogs with systemic and cardiac diseases, all investigated markers were expressed, with a significantly higher degree of mRNA expression than in control dogs. Furthermore, the degree of expression for MMP-2, TIMP-1, and TIMP-2 was significantly higher in dogs with DCM than in dogs with systemic diseases and cardiac diseases other than DCM. Expression was generally greater in atrial than in ventricular tissue for MMP-2, MMP-13, and lysyl oxidase in samples from dogs with atrial fibrillation.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Degrees of myocardial MMP, TIMP, and lysyl oxidase mRNA expression were higher in dogs with cardiac and systemic diseases than in healthy dogs, suggesting that expression of these markers is a nonspecific consequence of end-stage diseases. Selective differences in the expression of some markers may reflect specific pathogenic mechanisms and may play a role in disease progression, morbidity and mortality rates, and treatment response.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To compare myocardial cytokine expression in dogs with naturally occurring cardiac or systemic diseases and dogs without cardiac or systemic diseases (control dogs)

Sample—Myocardial tissue samples from 7 systemic disease-affected dogs (SDDs), 7 cardiac disease-affected dogs (CDDs), and 8 control dogs.

Procedures—mRNA expression of interleukin (IL)-1, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon (IFN)-γ, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, TGF-β2, TGF-β3, and growth differentiation factor-15 in myocardial tissue samples obtained from CDDs, SDDs, and control dogs were analyzed via quantitative PCR assays.

Results—In control dogs, only mRNA for TNF-α, TGF-β1, and TGF-β3 was detected; concentrations were significantly higher in male than in female dogs. In SDDs and CDDs, all cytokines, growth factors, and growth differentiation factor-15 were expressed. Compared with findings in SDDs, IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α, and IFN-γ expression was significantly increased in CDDs; specifically, IL-1, IL-8, TNF-α, TGF-β1, and TGF-β3 expression was increased in the atria and IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α, and IFN-γ expression was increased in the ventricles of CDDs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Data suggested that the alterations in cytokine expression in SDDs and CDDs, compared with control dog findings, were a result of inflammatory system activation. The differences in cytokine expression in atria and ventricles between SDDs and CDDs were suggestive of different remodeling processes. A better knowledge of myocardial involvement in SDDs and of immune regulation in CDDs might beneficially affect morbidity and mortality rates and provide new treatment approaches.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To identify the most frequent underlying diseases in dogs examined because of dyspnea and determine whether signalment, clinical signs, and duration of clinical signs might help guide assessment of the underlying condition and prognosis.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—229 dogs with dyspnea.

Procedures—Case records of dogs referred for dyspnea were reviewed and grouped according to location or etiology (upper airway, lower respiratory tract, pleural space, cardiac diseases, or obesity and stress). Signalment, clinical signs at initial examination, treatment, and survival time were analyzed.

Results—Upper airway (n = 74 [32%]) and lower respiratory tract (76 [33%]) disease were the most common diagnoses, followed by pleural space (44 [19%]) and cardiac (27 [12%]) diseases. Dogs with upper airway and pleural space disease were significantly younger than dogs with lower respiratory tract and cardiac diseases. Dogs with lower respiratory tract and associated systemic diseases were significantly less likely to be discharged from the hospital. Dogs with diseases that were treated surgically had a significantly better outcome than did medically treated patients, which were significantly more likely to be examined on an emergency basis with short duration of clinical signs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In dogs examined because of dyspnea, young dogs may be examined more frequently with breed-associated upper respiratory tract obstruction or pleural space disease after trauma, whereas older dogs may be seen more commonly with progressive lower respiratory tract or acquired cardiac diseases. Nontraumatic acute onset dyspnea is often associated with a poor prognosis, but stabilization, especially in patients with cardiac disease, is possible. Obesity can be an important contributing or exacerbating factor in dyspneic dogs.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To describe complications and outcomes in dogs undergoing epicardial pacemaker (EP) implantation, identify factors associated with survival, and investigate improvement in clinical signs and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) following surgery.


52 client-owned dogs that underwent EP placement.


Medical records of 4 UK-based referral hospitals were searched and data reviewed retrospectively between July 2010 and December 2022. Factors contributing to outcomes after EP placement were assessed.


The primary reasons for referral included collapsing/syncopal episodes (n = 36), exercise intolerance (15), and significant bradycardia (46). Third-degree atrioventricular block (39/52 [75%]) was the predominant indication for pacemaker placement, and common reasons for EP placement included previous transvenous pacemaker dislodgment/loss of capture (n = 12) and small body size (10). Intra- and postoperative complications were documented in 11% and 23% of dogs, respectively. Overall, 96% of dogs survived to discharge, and median follow-up time was 462 days (range, 31 to 3,139 days). Presence of coexistent myocardial or valvular disease at the time of EP implantation was associated with a reduced survival. Owners reported decreased clinical signs, increased activity levels, and improved HRQoL.


Epicardial pacemaker implantation is a valuable option for dogs requiring artificial cardiac pacing. Complications were common but did not impact the overall outcome. Dogs with a coexisting cardiac pathology had a shorter life expectancy after EP placement, but their HRQoL appeared to be good, with an improvement in clinical signs and increased activity levels.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association