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  • Author or Editor: Margret I. Lenfest x
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To evaluate the serum concentrations of myostatin and growth and differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) in Alaskan Husky sled dogs participating in a 350-mile (560-km) race and in an older population, and to examine correlations between changes in serum concentrations and body condition scores (BCSs).


Dogs were recruited from 3 teams of Alaskan Huskies participating in the Alaskan–Yukon Quest sled-dog race and retirees from a research sled-dog colony.


Serum samples and BCSs were collected prior to racing, midway, and postrace; and in an older cohort (13 to 14 years). Myostatin and GDF-15 concentrations were assessed using commercially available ELISA kits.


The median myostatin prerace concentration (9,519 pg/mL) was significantly greater than the mid- and postrace concentrations (7,709 pg/mL and 3,247 pg/mL, respectively). The prerace concentration was also significantly greater than that of the retired sled group dogs at 6,134 pg/mL. GDF-15 median serum concentrations did not change significantly across any racing time point (approx 350 pg/mL) or in the older cohort. No significant correlations were observed between changes in BCS and myostatin or GDF-15 concentrations.


Serum myostatin decreases dramatically, yet no correlations to loss of BCS could be found. Myostatin signaling may be involved in maintaining hypertrophic signaling during intense exercise. Neither racing distance nor geriatric/retirement status appears to have an effect on serum GDF-15 concentration. Myostatin was less in the older, retired sled dogs compared to the younger racing cohort. Such differences highlight the roles that fitness level and age play regarding myostatin levels.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To measure interobserver agreement for 4 functional tasks and their summed geriatric functional score (GFS) and correlate tasks and GFS with client-specific outcome measurements (CSOMs): Canine Brief Pain Inventory (CBPI) pain severity, CBPI pain interference, and Liverpool Osteoarthritis in Dogs.


89 geriatric dogs were recruited between April and September 2023 from staff, friends, and clients of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine with a median age of 11.0 years and weight of 26.4 kg.


Dogs underwent 4 sequential functional tests: timed up and go (TUG), cavallettis, figure 8s, and down to stands. Two observers independently scored each dog. The GFS was calculated based on the summed scores of the individual tests. Additional information collected included signalment, weight, measurements reflecting the comorbidities of aging (body condition score and muscle condition score), and CSOMs.


Strong interrater agreement was found for all functional tests. The TUG in seconds (sTUG) and figure 8s demonstrated significant (P < .05) moderate to strong correlations to all CSOMs. The GFS showed similar significant correlations with all CSOMs except CBPI pain severity; however, when correlating individual tests to CSOMs, only figure 8s and TUG were significantly contributing to GFS results. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis defined highly functional dogs as those completing the sTUG in under 3.83 seconds. The sTUG represented the best test for geriatric function given it was objective, reliable, correlated well to CSOMs, and could help identify highly functioning dogs.


The sTUG appears to be the first practical and reliable functional test of canine geriatric mobility.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research