The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Enzyme levels could inform canine oral cancer prognosis

Pilot study links heightened levels of a blood biomarker in dogs with a common type of melanoma.

Levels of an enzyme in blood have been linked to a common mouth cancer in dogs and could help vets to determine the likely prognosis for affected animals.

Levels of the molecule, known as lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), are heightened in the blood of dogs with oral malignant melanoma (OMM), the most common mouth cancer in dogs, researchers at the Royal (Dick) School for Veterinary Studies have discovered.

Their findings, in a small pilot study, suggest that testing the LDH levels in dogs undergoing treatment for OMM could be included alongside other indicators of the dogs’ condition, to aid vets in determining individual animals’ prognosis and care.

Researchers tested LDH levels in blood samples from 15 dogs with OMM, acquired from a veterinary biobank. They compared LDH in dogs with cancer against those in 10 healthy dogs.

LDH was found to be significantly heightened in dogs affected by OMM compared with dogs that were not.

Prognosis predictions

Researchers expected that the enzyme might offer useful insights, as it has previously been linked with progression in many cancers.

The team suggests that Information about LDH levels in dogs with OMM alone is not sufficient to give a prognosis, but is likely to be useful as a complement to other factors in guiding predictions of how cases of cancer are likely to develop.

Incorporating LDH into patient prognosis in this way would correspond with its use in human medicine, in which LDH levels are already used to inform prognosis in melanoma patients.

In addition, further research into LDH in the development of OMM may aid understanding of the condition and improve investigation and treatment.

The study was published in Veterinary Sciences.

Dr Ben Murray, Hospital for Small Animals, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies: “Our small study showed that levels of LDH are raised in dogs with malignant oral melanoma, as is the case in many forms of cancer in humans. We hope this initial finding can lead to further investigation of LDH as a helpful tool in understanding OMM in dogs and in aiding prognosis and care for affected animals.”

Related links

Scientific paper

About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than eight hundred staff and almost fourteen hundred students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.    

The School comprises:   

  The Roslin Institute   

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems   

The Roslin Innovation Centre   

The Hospital for Small Animals   

Equine Veterinary Services   

Farm Animal Services   

Easter Bush Pathology   

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education   

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.