Many humans suffer from anxiety. Symptoms may include phobias, panic attacks or social anxiety. But the condition can be difficult to diagnose. After all, everyone gets nervous sometimes. At what point should it be considered anxiety?
Domestic dogs can also experience anxiety. Researchers in Finland wanted to identify specific physical biomarkers for anxiety in our canine friends. After all, you can’t interview the dog to find out what’s going on.
The researchers monitored a group of Great Danes for signs of anxiety and fearfulness. Specific behaviors included:
- Fear towards unfamiliar people
- Overall fearfulness (toward unfamiliar dogs and new situations)
- Noise sensitivity
Using these criteria, the researchers identified 10 “fearful” and 10 “non-fearful” dogs, then compared blood samples from the two groups. They used a portfolio of Agilent instruments, including an Agilent LC system, Jetstream electrospray ionization source, UHD accurate-mass Q-TOF spectrometer and column for their blood analyses.
The researchers identified 13 differential metabolites between the fearful and non-fearful dogs. These metabolites included phospholipids – cellular signaling molecules that are associated with anxiety-related diseases and behavior in humans and mice. Other biomarkers included oxidative stress stimulators, as well as pathways that had not previously been associated with anxiety.
The researchers noted that the metabolomic changes they detected in the dogs “appear relevant to anxiety also in other species.” They hope that “the identified biomarkers and pathways in this study could lead to applications for improved phenotyping and understanding of anxiety across species.”
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