Addison’s Disease

The Autoantibody Research (abstract below) means new goals, additional samples, and a continuing need for participation. We always need AFFECTED dog participation. Unraveling the mysteries of this dreaded disease will largely come from a meaningful number of AFFECTED individuals that will demonstrate how it is defined in this breed com-pared to others, and if there are subtle differences.

If you own a newly-diagnosed affected dog, or one that has been affected for a period of time, please contact

AMY TREEFUL, MS, PhD Candidate

Amy is Dr. Friedenber’s graduate assistant. His schedule keeps him more than busy.

Participation is very easy and FREE. They will need a sample of blood. Amy will call your attending DVM and she will ship a collection kit to the DVM. Have your DVM contact information available when you email Amy. Once your attending DVM receives the collection kit you will need to set up an appointment for a simple blood draw. There is also a need for participation from dogs that fit the following criteria which includes Affected status:

• AGE 8 or older, Affected with Addison’s, diagnosed at least 3 years ago
• AGE 8 or younger, diagnosed with Addison’s within ONE MONTH
• AGE 1 year or older, Healthy, no disease or illness

This request for samples is solely for the ‘Autoantibody’ study. The previous collection three/four years ago was funded by an ECSCA Grant to Dr. Friedenberg. It essentially was to gather some molecular information and a basis to start a database with the hope of getting a much larger, formal study in the near future. The ECSCA DNA collection did include baseline cortisol testing to insure all control normal participants were indeed normal. Affected dogs also participated. Additional funding was secured with the AKC CHF Autoantibody Grant awarded to Dr. Friedenberg.

In review, the onset age for English Cockers is much later in life (on average). Typically, our onset is between 6-8 years old. Atypically, we have had a few cases reported under age 4. Onset for Poodles and Clumbers is 1-4 years old. We ‘might’ have a different form of the disease. It’s too early to know.

Annual Vaccinations do not trigger Addison’s Disease. That said, there is no research to support that it can be triggered by annual shots. Nothing in science is 100%, but there is no reason at this point in time to suspect Addison’s would occur from vaccina-tions.

Dogs AFFECTED with Addison’s Disease should NOT be bred. It is at this time considered to be a polygenic disease. Fertility in an Addison’s dog or bitch has not been studied because Addison’s is a genetic disease. Why spend research dollars to fund such a study?

Use of various drugs for other systemic diseases or illnesses isn’t known to specifically cause Addison’s Disease. If a dog is being treated for another illness and the dog develops Addison’s during the course of treatment, an inquiry to the drug manufacturer should be made.

A brief study was made on ECS Major Histocompatibility Complex gene. This is a group of genes that allow the immune system to monitor what’s happening in the body. We have perhaps 2-3 haplotypes (groups of DNA variations) which suggests very little to no diversity. Diversity is created when the breed was created. Other breeds may also have little to no diversity. Some breeds are more diversified. A show-bred breed would have a lower diversity than a designer breed or a Heinz 57. Further studies will be done to know more about ECS MHC gene diversity.

Visit Dr. Friedenberg’s website for additional information:

Dr. Steven Friedenberg’s presentation at the 2018 National Specialty on Addison’s Disease & IMHA. Special thanks to Joyce Winkels for recording the presentation.



AKC CHF Grant 02428
Identifying the Disease-Defining Autoantibodies in Canine Addison’s Disease
Principal Investigator: Steven G. Friedenberg, DVM, PhD; University of Minnesota
Total Grant Amount: $181,864
Grant Period: 3/1/2018- 8/31/2020
Project Abstract: Addison’s disease is a common and life-threatening disorder in dogs in which the body’s immune system destroys the outer layer of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce hormones that are critical for energy metabolism, immune sys-tem function, intestinal health, and kidney function. Symptoms of Addison’s disease can mimic other conditions, and as a result, many dogs remain undiagnosed for years. About one-third of dogs with Addison’s disease are diagnosed only after suffering an acute adrenal crisis, which can cause a wide range of complications that require emer-gency stabilization and hospitalization. Today, there is no way to predict which dogs will develop Addison’s disease before they become sick. If such a test were available, veterinarians would be able to evaluate high-risk dogs before they show signs, helping to pre-vent disease-related complications and potentially enabling earlier treatment. In this study, the investigator will use a novel approach combining gene and protein sequencing to identify the antibodies that target the adrenal glands in Standard Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, and English Cocker Spaniels with Addison’s disease. These antibodies are produced by the immune system before the onset of clinical signs. The ability to identify these antibodies would therefore provide a test for early diagnosis. This research will contribute to progress in devel-oping an important clinical test for Addison’s disease that can help improve the lives of the many dogs at high risk of developing this life-threatening condition.

Addi Pittman, Chairman
ECSCA Health Education Committee

Genelle Joseph
Elizabeth Neff
Joyce Winkels
Bruce Barrett, DVM

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