An immunophenotypic study of canine leukemias and preliminary assessment of clonality by polymerase chain reaction

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204 Scopus citations


There is a relative lack of information in the veterinary literature regarding the immunophenotypes present in canine leukemias. Utilizing a panel of thirty monoclonal antibodies, canine leukemias were assessed by flow cytometry alone or by flow cytometry in combination with immunocytochemical staining of smears. Canine chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) occurred in older dogs (mean age 9.75 years; range 1.5-15 years; n = 73 cases). Blood lymphocyte counts ranged from 15,000 to 1,600,000/μl. Surprisingly, 73% of CLL cases involved proliferation of T lymphocytes (CD3+), and 54% of CLL cases had large granular lymphocyte (LGL) morphology. LGL CLL's were almost exclusively proliferation's of T cells that expressed CD8 and the leukointegrin αDβ2 and more frequently expressed T cell receptor (TCR) αβ (69%) than TCRγδ (31%). The non-LGL T cell CLL cases (19% of CLL) involved proliferation of TCRαβ T cells in which no consistent pattern of CD4 or CD8 expression was found. B cell CLL, based on expression of CD21 or CD79a, comprised 26% of canine CLL cases. These results are in marked contrast to people where greater than 95% of CLL cases involve proliferation of B lymphocytes. Thirty eight (38) acute leukemias were also immunophenotyped. The majority (55%) of these leukemias had a phenotype most consistent with a myeloid origin. Acute LGL leukemias were also observed (7/38), although less commonly than the CLL counterpart. CD34 expression was common in acute, non- LGL leukemias of dogs, both myeloid and lymphoid. In some circumstances, it can be difficult to differentiate a reactive (polyclonal) lymphoid proliferation from a neoplastic (monoclonal) one. Therefore, as an adjunct to phenotypic studies, we have developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based test for assessment of clonality in T cell proliferations. The test amplifies the junction of the variable γ (Vγ) and joining γ (Jγ) gene segments region of the TCR γ genes. Preliminary data indicates that our test is effective and is capable of differentiating a neoplastic from a reactive lymphoproliferative process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-164
Number of pages20
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - Aug 2 1999


  • Canine
  • Clonality
  • Immunophenotype
  • Large granular lymphocyte
  • Leukemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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