Melendez Studies Connection Between HAC and Anemia


Tom Johnston
Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
(405) 744-6260

Dr. Lynda Melendez makes friends with Rufus, a rat terrier. Melendez is studying hypoadrenocorticism in dogs.
Dr. Lynda Melendez joined OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine faculty in 1999 and already has some interesting research plans in development. The assistant professor of small animal medicine has a strong interest in endocrinology and endocrine diseases.

She has for some time been interested in hypoadrenocorticism (HAC), a medical term for an animal disease similar to Addison's disease in humans. The adrenal glands secrete the hormone cortisone which is then converted to cortisol, a substance important for a number of different bodily functions. If the cortisol level is lower then it should be, as is the case in HAC, a number of physical problems can crop up. One of those is anemia.

In both animals and humans, there is a high incidence of anemia connected with this disease. Melendez says no one has done a definitive study to establish a relationship between HAC and iron deficiency. "It is known that subjects with HAC are in many cases anemic and it is supposed that this is due to gastrointestinal blood loss which leads to iron deficiency. We want to either establish that this is the case, or, if not, we'd like to find out what the connection is, if any, between low cortisol and anemia."

She said if there does appear to be a direct link between the two problems, the next question to be answered would be whether treating them for the disease process would take care of the anemia or whether they also need to be put on iron supplementation.

She is presently working with the medical resident of the teaching hospital in preparing a research proposal for the project. She said there is a possibility the results of such a study could be extrapolated to human medicine and perhaps lead to changes in treatment of Addison's disease that would contribute to a higher quality of life for those affected by it.

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