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Open Access Methodology article

Detection of clonal antigen receptor gene rearrangement in dogs with lymphoma by real-time polymerase chain reaction and melting curve analysis

Kathrin FA Langner1*, Alexa E Joetzke1, Verena Nerschbach1, Nina Eberle1, Hans-Joachim Schuberth2, Mirja Koy2, Ingo Nolte1 and Daniela Betz1

Author Affiliations

1 Small Animal Clinic, University of Veterinary Medicine, Buenteweg 9, 30559 Hannover, Germany

2 Immunology Unit, University of Veterinary Medicine, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany

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BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:1  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-1

Published: 3 January 2014



Molecular techniques that detect canine lymphoma cells by their clonal antigen receptor gene rearrangement play an increasing role for diagnosis as well as for monitoring minimal residual disease during and after cytostatic therapy. However, the methods currently available are time-consuming and/or cost-intensive thus impeding the use in clinical routine. The aim of the present study was to develop and evaluate a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with subsequent melting curve analysis (MCA) for the detection of clonally rearranged antigen receptor genes in dogs with B and T cell lymphoma on non formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded lymph node samples.


In lymph node aspirates from 30 dogs with multicentric B cell lymphoma, real-time PCR with MCA detected clonal rearrangement in 100% and conventional PCR with polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) in 93% of samples. Both methods correctly identified clonality in 80% of lymph node aspirates of 10 dogs with T cell lymphoma. None of the two PCR systems detected clonal rearrangement in samples from 9 dogs with lymph node hyperplasia. Using a dilutional series with regular lymphoid desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), detection limits of lymphoma DNA were as low as 0.8% and 6.25% for B and T cell clonal rearrangement with real-time PCR and MCA and at 3.13% and 12.5% with the conventional system. Median absolute detection limits of lymphoma DNA were shown to be at 0.1 ng and 1 ng for the B and T cell immunophenotype with the real-time PCR system and at 10 ng each with conventional PCR and PAGE.


Real-time PCR with MCA is a convenient and reliable method with a good analytical sensitivity. Thus, the method may assist the detection of clonal antigen receptor gene rearrangement in canine lymphoma patients in a clinical setting also in the presence of small amounts of neoplastic cells.

Lymphoma; Dog; Real-time polymerase chain reaction; Melting curve analysis