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Vet Clin Pathol. 2011 Sep;40(3):389-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-165X.2011.00331.x. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Serum alkaline phosphatase activity is not a marker for neoplastic transformation of esophageal nodules in canine spirocercosis.

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Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.



Spirocerca lupi is a nematode of Canidae that matures within the esophageal wall to form fibroblastic nodules with potential for malignant transformation. Diagnosis is based on histopathologic examination, but false-negative results may be obtained from samples collected by endoscopy. Serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, frequently increased in hepatobiliary disease, is also increased in a variety of neoplastic conditions in dogs, including appendicular osteosarcoma, and has also been reported to be increased in dogs with spirocercosis.


The aim of this study was to evaluate serum ALP activity as a marker for malignant transformation of esophageal nodules in S. lupi-infected dogs.


In this retrospective study, medical records of dogs diagnosed with spirocercosis from 1991 to 2008 were reviewed, and serum ALP activity determined at presentation was compared between dogs with nonneoplastic and neoplastic nodules. Owing to use of multiple analyzers, ratios of ALP activity to the upper reference interval for ALP were calculated and compared.


Median ALP activity ratios were 0.65 (0.07-4.00) and 0.86 (0.10-3.40) for dogs with nonneoplastic (n=88) and neoplastic (n=32) nodules, respectively, with no significant difference (P=.18) and substantial overlap between groups. Tumors included osteosarcoma (15 dogs), fibrosarcoma (15 dogs), and anaplastic sarcoma (2 dogs); there was no difference in ALP activity between the dogs with osteosarcoma and fibrosarcoma.


ALP is a poor marker of malignant transformation in canine spirocercosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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