Epilepsy is a disease that occurs in humans and in many dog breeds. Epilepsy can occur after brain injury (E.g. as a result of an accident or tumour), but can also have genetic causes. In dogs, the genetic forms of epilepsy probably play a huge role. In collaboration with Prof. Tosso Leeb of the University of Bern and Prof. Hannes Lohi of the University of Helsinki, we would like to explore the genetic causes of inherited forms of epilepsy in retrievers.
Previously several attempts were made to identify genetic variants that can cause epelepsy, especially for the Labrador Retriever, but unsuccessfully. According to the current state of knowledge, the genetic forms of epilepsy in dogs are often complex and generally inherited. This means that several harmful genetic variants and also environmental factors must coincide so that epilepsy occurs. To date it is still extremely difficult with genetics to solve such complex inherited diseases.
There are new reports of family accumulated cases of epilepsy both in the Labrador and Golden Retriever. Several brothers and sisters from different litters have had epileptic seizures. Such siezures began approximately at the same age and the affected littermates had similar seizures in terms of frequency of occurence and severity. The researchers of the universities of Bern and Helsinki consider it possible that this familial forms of epilepsy is a monogenic inherited characteristic that is caused by a single genetic variant. If this presumption should apply then there are good chances that these forms of epilepsy can be identified and a genetic test can be developed. It must be emphasized here that such a genetic test can detect only the genotype for a specific form of epilepsy, but will allow no prediction for all other forms of epilepsy.
Blood samples of complete families, i.e. all siblings of a litter with their parents are required for new research efforts. The family analysis allows you to work out similarities between the affected dogs and differences to healthy dogs. Specifically Petra Golz for the Golden Retriever and Dr. Helena Niehof- Oellers for the Labrador Retriever are looking for families with epilepsy, to then coordinate the sampling of these litters.
Prof. Dr. Tosso Leeb
Institute of Genetics University of Bern
Bremgartenstrasse 109a, P.O.
Donations for this project on 13th March 2016: