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Elevation of alanine transaminase and gallbladder wall abnormalities as biomarkers of anaphylaxis in canine hypersensitivity patients


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Dr. Jonnie E. Quantz, Animal Emergency Referral Center, 3511 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite A, Torrance, CA 90505. Email:


Objective – The purpose of the study was to evaluate alanine transaminase (ALT) and gallbladder wall abnormalities as possible biomarkers for anaphylaxis in dogs presented for acute hypersensitivity reactions.

Design – Pilot study.

Setting – A private practice, small animal, 24-hour emergency and specialty hospital.

Animals – Ninety-six dogs presenting 101 times on an emergency basis for hypersensitivity reactions from March 2007 through March 2009.

Interventions – Veterinarians acquired a history, physical exam, serum chemistry panel, blood pressure, and ultrasound image of the gallbladder.

Measurements and Main Results – Dogs were then divided into 2 groups: dogs fulfilling the definition for anaphylaxis (moderate and severe systemic hypersensitivity) and dogs that did not fulfill the definition and were classified as allergic reactions (local hypersensitivity and mild systemic hypersensitivity). Elevated ALT was significantly associated with anaphylaxis (P<0.001). Increased gallbladder wall thickness and a striated wall pattern were significantly associated with anaphylaxis (P<0.001) and these changes were readily apparent to first-responder veterinarians. Decreased body temperature (P<0.001) and hypothermia (P=0.006) were significantly associated with anaphylaxis. There was no significant difference between groups regarding age, heart rate, or presence of respiratory signs. Lower blood pressure was significantly associated with anaphylaxis (P<0.001) but hypotension was not significantly different (P=0.09) between groups. Cutaneous signs were significantly associated with the allergic reactions group (P<0.001) and, when seen with anaphylaxis, were subtle.

Conclusions – This study showed an elevated ALT and an abnormal gallbladder wall to be biomarkers significantly associated with anaphylaxis in dogs with acute hypersensitivity reactions.