Background: Although lymphoma is the most common neoplastic process reported in dogs, its precise etiology is unknown. Golden Retrievers are more likely to develop lymphoma, suggesting a breed predisposition; however, other factors, including environment, immunity, and infection, are likely contributors to oncogenesis.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that the development of lymphoma in Golden Retrievers may be associated with vector-borne infections, specifically Bartonella, Anaplasma, or Ehrlichia species infections.
Animals: Golden Retrievers with lymphoma and healthy Golden Retrievers from across the United States were recruited for study participation.
Methods: A matched, case-control study was performed to determine the association of lymphoma and the presence of Bartonella, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia species in serum, blood, and lymph node aspirates.
Results: Using PCR analyses and DNA sequencing, single and coinfections with Bartonella henselae, Bartonella elizabethae, Bartonella quintana, and/or Bartonella vinsonii (berkhoffii) were detected in the blood and lymph node aspirates of Golden Retrievers with lymphoma (5/28 dogs, 18%) and in healthy Golden Retrievers (10/56 dogs, 18%); no Anaplasma or Ehrlichia DNA was detected in any dog. When compared with dogs with lymphoma, a higher (P <.001) proportion of healthy Golden Retrievers were receiving monthly acaricide treatments (2.6 times higher).
Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Bartonella DNA can be detected in blood and lymph nodes; importantly, in this report, Bartonella was detected in the same proportion of clinically healthy dogs and dogs with lymphoma. Longitudinal studies should be conducted to determine the mode of transmission of Bartonella in dogs, whether lymphatic infection is persistent, or whether these bacteria may contribute to the development of lymphoma.