• Open Access

Expression of Leptin and iNOS in Oral Melanomas in Dogs


Corresponding author: Dr J.A. Ellerhorst, The Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology Research, Unit 362, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030; e-mail: jaellerh@mdanderson.org.



Oral melanoma (OM) in dogs is an aggressive malignancy, with clinical behavior resembling cutaneous melanomas in humans. Melanoma in humans is promoted by an inflammatory environment that is contributed to by leptin and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS).


To determine if the patterns of leptin and iNOS expression are similar in OM in dogs and cutaneous melanomas in humans.


Twenty client-owned dogs.


Retrospective case study. Immunostaining of the OM tumors from each dog was scored for percentage and intensity of leptin and iNOS expression. Mitotic index was used as an indicator of tumor aggression.


Leptin was detected in ≥75% of the tumor cells in specimens from 11 dogs. One tumor expressed leptin in ≤25% of the cells. The intensity of leptin expression was variable with 6, 9, and 5 cases exhibiting low-, moderate-, and high-intensity staining, respectively. OM with the lowest percentage of iNOS positive cells displayed the highest mitotic indices (= .006, ANOVA).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

The expression of leptin is a common finding in melanomas in dogs. These data suggest that the possibility of future clinical applications, such as measuring the concentrations of plasma leptin as a screening tool or leptin as a target for therapy. The relevance of iNOS is not as clear in dogs with OM, for which other directed therapeutics might be more appropriate.