RNA sequencing of whole blood in dogs with primary immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) reveals novel insights into disease pathogenesis

Corie Borchert, Adam Herman, Megan Roth, Aimee C. Brooks, Steven G. Friedenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) is a life-threatening autoimmune disorder characterized by a self-mediated attack on circulating red blood cells. The disease occurs naturally in both dogs and humans, but is significantly more prevalent in dogs. Because of its shared features across species, dogs offer a naturally occurring model for studying IMHA in people. In this study, we used RNA sequencing of whole blood from treatment-naïve dogs to study transcriptome-wide changes in gene expression in newly diagnosed animals compared to healthy controls. We found many overexpressed genes in pathways related to neutrophil function, coagulation, and hematopoiesis. In particular, the most highly overexpressed gene in cases was a phospholipase scramblase, which mediates the externalization of phosphatidylserine from the inner to the outer leaflet of cell membranes. This family of genes has been shown to be critically important for programmed cell death of erythrocytes as well as the initiation of the clotting cascade. Unexpectedly, we found marked underexpression of many genes related to lymphocyte function. We also identified groups of genes that are highly associated with the inflammatory response and red blood cell regeneration in affected dogs. We did not find any genes that distinguished dogs that lived vs. those that died at 30 days following diagnosis, nor did we find any relevant genomic signatures of microbial organisms in the blood of affected animals. Future studies are warranted to validate these findings and assess their implication in developing novel therapeutic approaches for dogs and humans with IMHA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0240975
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Borchert et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. MHA.


  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune/blood
  • Animals
  • Blood Coagulation/genetics
  • Dog Diseases/blood
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA/methods

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'RNA sequencing of whole blood in dogs with primary immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) reveals novel insights into disease pathogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this