Evaluation of cell-free DNA as a diagnostic marker in cerebrospinal fluid of dogs

Am J Vet Res. 2020 May;81(5):416-421. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.81.5.416.


Objective: To determine whether cell-free DNA (cfDNA) was detectable in CSF samples from dogs, whether CSF sample volume impacted CSF cfDNA concentration measurement, and whether CSF cfDNA concentration was associated with CNS disease category or CSF RBC count (RBCC), nucleated cell count (NCC), or protein concentration, which could aid in the diagnosis of neurologic diseases in dogs.

Sample: 80 CSF samples collected from dogs with (n = 60) and without (20) clinical neurologic disease between February 2017 and May 2018.

Procedures: Results for CSF RBCC, NCC, protein concentration, and cfDNA concentration were compared across CSF groups established on the basis of whether they were obtained from dogs with (case groups) or without (control group) clinical signs of neurologic disease In addition, 5 paired CSF samples representing large (3.0-mL) and small (0.5-mL) volumes, were used to evaluate whether sample volume impacted measurement of CSF cfDNA concentration.

Results: cfDNA was detected in 76 of the 80 (95%) CSF samples used to evaluate parameters across disease categories and in all 5 of the paired samples used to evaluate whether sample volume impacted cfDNA quantification. There were no substantial differences in cfDNA concentrations identified between groups (on the basis of disease category or sample volume), and the CSF cfDNA concentration did not meaningfully correlate with CSF RBCC, NCC, or protein concentration.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Although results indicated that the CSF cfDNA concentration could not be used to differentiate between categories of neurologic disease in dogs of the the present study, further investigation is warranted regarding the use of CSF analysis, including sequencing specific cfDNA mutations, for diagnosing and monitoring neurologic disease in dogs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count / veterinary
  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids*
  • Dog Diseases*
  • Dogs


  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids