• Open Access

Serum Serotonin Concentrations in Dogs with Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease


  • All work on this project was performed at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This study has been presented in part as an abstract at the ACVIM Forum in San Antonio, TX, in June 2008.

Corresponding author: Mark A. Oyama, Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3900 Delancey St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: maoyama@vet.upenn.edu


Background: Increased serotonin (5HT) signaling has been implicated in valvular disease of humans and animals, including canine degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD). High circulating 5HT concentration is a potential source of increased signaling, and serum 5HT concentrations have not been previously reported in dogs with DMVD.

Hypothesis: Dogs with DMVD and small breed dogs predisposed to DMVD have higher serum 5HT concentrations than large breed controls.

Animals: Fifty dogs affected with DMVD, 34 dogs predisposed to DMVD but without cardiac murmur or echocardiographic evidence of DMVD, and 36 healthy large breed control dogs.

Methods: Prospective analysis. Serum 5HT concentration was measured by an ELISA test.

Results: Median serum 5HT concentration was significantly higher in dogs with DMVD and in dogs predisposed to DMVD as compared with controls (DMVD, 765.5 ng/mL [interquartile range, 561.3–944.4]; predisposed, 774.9 ng/mL [528.3–1,026]; control, 509.8 ng/mL [320.8–708.8]; P= .0001). Subgroup analysis of predisposed dogs indicated significantly higher serum 5HT concentrations in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS) dogs than in other breeds (CKCS, 855.0 ng/mL [635.8–1,088]; non-CKCS, 554.2 ng/mL [380.6–648.4]; P= .0023). Age, platelet count, and platelet morphology were not correlated with 5HT concentration in any group.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Dogs with DMVD had significantly higher serum 5HT concentrations when compared with large breed control dogs. Healthy CKCS dogs had significantly higher serum 5HT concentrations than other healthy dogs predisposed to DMVD. Additional investigation into a possible role of 5HT in the pathogenesis of DMVD is warranted.