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14 The Canine Major Histocompatibility Complex

John L. Wagner, Rainer F. Storb


Knowledge of the canine immune system is valuable not only for understanding the pathogenesis of a number of human diseases, but also for improving canine health. The dog serves as an important model for drug toxicity trials, solid organ and hematopoietic stem-cell transplants (Thomas and Storb 1999), and a variety of human diseases such as cyclic neutropenia (Weiden et al. 1974), X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome (SCID) (Felsburg et al. 1999), von Willebrand’s disease (Thomas 1996), severe hereditary hemolytic anemia (Weiden et al. 1976), hemophilia (Fogh et al. 1984), glutensensitive enteropathy (Hall and Batt 1990), rheumatoid arthritis (Halliwell et al. 1972), systemic lupus erythematosus (Lewis and Schwartz 1971), narcolepsy (Baker et al. 1982), canine atopic dermatitis (Zur et al. 2002), pemphigus vulgaris (Hurvitz and Feldman 1975), and myasthenia gravis (Pflugfelder et al. 1981). Dogs have high rates of spontaneous malignancies and thus have served as models for a variety of cancers including breast cancer (Mol et al. 1999), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (Weiden et al. 1979), and prostate cancer (Navone et al. 1998–1999). Many of these diseases may have an immune basis.

The immune systems of dogs protect them from a variety of infectious agents. In dogs, as in other mammals, the immune system has a complex series of functions including distinguishing self from non-self as well as the ability to “recall” previous foreign antigen exposure (for review, see Klein 1982). An important genetic component of the immune system that facilitates many of these functions is the major histocompatibility complex (MHC),...

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