Cytokines as diagnostic biomarkers in canine pyometra and sepsis

Abstract: Sepsis is a syndrome with high morbidity, mortality and astronomical health care costs and it is challenging to diagnose both in humans and animals due to the lack of suitable diagnostic biomarkers. Although several types of proteins have been suggested as diagnostic biomarkers of sepsis, none of them were shown to be reliable for routine use in the clinical practice. Dogs with uterine bacterial infection called pyometra often develop sepsis and have been suggested as a natural model of sepsis. To investigate whether there is a pattern of biomarkers that can be useful to diagnose bacterial sepsis on early stages in addition to existing clinical criteria, we measured both local gene expression and serum levels of cytokines in dogs with pyometra and compared these levels with known inflammatory markers and blood clotting parameters. Serum concentrations of keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC)-like protein and the global clot strength were significantly increased both in dogs with pyometra compared to healthy dogs and in dogs with sepsis compared to dogs without sepsis in pyometra. Moreover, the expression levels of the chemokines interleukin (IL)-8 and C-X-C motif ligand 5 (CXCL5) mRNA were significantly higher in uteri from dogs with pyometra compared to healthy dogs and in cultured stromal endometrial cells derived from uteri of healthy dogs and cocultured with LPS or pathogenic Escherichia coli compared to unstimulated cells. Although serum concentrations of IL-8, high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), prostaglandin F2α, IL-2, IL-15, IL-18, interferon (IFN)-γ and monocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (MG-CSF) were not different between dogs with or without sepsis in the presence of pyometra, some of these cytokines correlated significantly with clinical parameters such as total white blood cell count (correlated with HMGB1) and KC-like (correlated with IL-8). Measurements of serum IL-10, CXCL10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-6 and IL-4 will require a more sensitive method in dogs with pyometra. Our findings suggest that KC-like, CXCL5 and IL-8 may be useful as early diagnostic biomarkers of sepsis in dogs with pyometra. Further investigation of these chemokines in sepsis may help to improve routines in sepsis diagnosis in dogs and possibly also humans.

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