Telomerase enzyme activity as a diagnostic tool to distinguish effusions of malignant and benign origin. Academic Article uri icon


  • Telomerase enzyme activity is high in populations of cells that are dividing, and is low or undetectable in quiescent cell populations. Activation of telomerase in tissues that normally lack the capacity for self-renewal is strongly correlated with neoplasia. Telomerase activity can be detected in samples containing very small numbers of cells and studies of human patients suggest that measurement of telomerase activity may be useful for the evaluation of samples that can be obtained in a minimally invasive manner. This study compares the presence or absence of telomerase activity with cytologic evaluation of body cavity effusions, to determine if neoplasia is the underlying cause for the effusion in dogs and cats. Detection of telomerase in effusions was no more sensitive than cytologic evaluation for the identification of underlying neoplasia, and was less specific (telomerase assay: sensitivity = 50%, specificity = 83%; cytology: sensitivity = 50%, specificity = 100%). We conclude that although the telomerase assay may constitute a useful adjunctive test for the diagnosis of neoplasia in some dogs and cats with body cavity effusions, the results of this assay are not sufficiently reliable to be used as a sole diagnostic test.

published proceedings

  • J Vet Intern Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Spangler, E. A., Rogers, K. S., Thomas, J. S., Pustejovsky, D., Boyd, S. L., & Shippen, D. E.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Spangler, EA||Rogers, KS||Thomas, JS||Pustejovsky, D||Boyd, SL||Shippen, DE

publication date

  • March 2000