• Open Access

Von Willebrand Factor Antigen Concentration in Dogs with Sepsis


Corresponding author: Catherine L. Rogers, DVM, DACVECC, Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, DCS Box 25, Ithaca, NY 14853; e-mail: clr95@cornell.edu.


Background: Von Willebrand factor (vWF) antigen concentration, a marker of endothelial activation, is increased in human patients with multiorgan failure, sepsis, or both, and is an independent predictor of survival.

Hypothesis/Objectives: vWF antigen concentrations are significantly higher in dogs with sepsis.

Animals: Fourteen dogs hospitalized with sepsis. Sepsis was defined as microbiologic or cytologic evidence of infection combined with systemic inflammatory response syndrome. Control dogs were healthy dogs, without evidence of disease.

Methods: Prospective, observational study. Dogs admitted to the intensive care unit with a diagnosis of sepsis were considered eligible for enrollment into the study. Exclusion criteria included a previous diagnosis of von Willebrand disease or a recent history of a plasma transfusion. Citrated plasma samples were collected for analysis of vWF antigen by ELISA. All samples were drawn from dogs during hospitalization. Data between populations were analyzed using nonparametric statistical analysis with a P value < .05 considered significant.

Results: Twenty-five dogs were enrolled; 14 dogs with sepsis and 11 control dogs. The median vWF antigen concentration in dogs with sepsis was 156% (range, 117–200%), which was significantly higher than healthy dogs (105%; range, 44–155%, P < .005). There was no difference between survivors and nonsurvivors with a median vWF antigen concentration of 144% (range, 136–201%) in survivors (n = 7) and 159% (range, 122–174%) in nonsurvivors (n = 7) (P= .5).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: vWF is increased in dogs with sepsis, possibly reflecting endothelial activation. Further exploration of endothelial function is warranted in critically ill dogs.