Hepatic Fibrosis in Dogs.

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Abstract

Hepatic fibrosis is commonly diagnosed in dogs, often as a sequela to chronic hepatitis (CH). The development of fibrosis is a crucial event in the progression of hepatic disease that is of prognostic value. The pathophysiology of hepatic fibrosis in human patients and rodent models has been studied extensively. Although less is known about this process in dogs, evidence suggests that fibrogenic mechanisms are similar between species and that activation of hepatic stellate cells is a key step. Diagnosis and staging of hepatic fibrosis in dogs requires histopathological examination of a liver biopsy specimen. However, performing a liver biopsy is invasive and assessment of fibrotic stage is complicated by the absence of a universally accepted staging scheme in veterinary medicine. Serum biomarkers that can discriminate among different fibrosis stages are used in human patients, but such markers must be more completely evaluated in dogs before clinical use. When successful treatment of its underlying cause is feasible, reversal of hepatic fibrosis has been shown to be possible in rodent models and human patients. Reversal of fibrosis has not been well documented in dogs, but successful treatment of CH is possible. In human medicine, better understanding of the pathomechanisms of hepatic fibrosis is leading to the development of novel treatment strategies. In time, these may be applied to dogs. This article comparatively reviews the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis, its diagnosis, and its treatment in dogs.

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