The Equine Cardiac Group at the University of Copenhagen has established a platform for diagnosing long QT syndrome (LQTS) in horses. In men, this condition is a cause of severe ventricular arrhythmias leading to death in some cases. The pathophysiological mechanism behind this disturbance of the cardiac rhythm is a delayed repolarisation often associated with reduced function of voltage gated potassium (K-) channels. LQTS is one of the cardiac causes of sudden death in athletes. Sudden deaths occurring during public events have a highly negative impact on the public perception about high performance sports, both in men and in horses, and raise concerns about animal welfare especially in the racing industry.
With the new tools developed by the Equine Cardiac Group the presence of LQTS will be investigated in horses by screening ECGs from a large pool of horses with different genetic backgrounds. Genetic sequencing will be performed on blood samples from this population and from horses with sudden death to describe genetic polymorphisms or mutations in the K-channels. The identified equine sequences will be compared to those described for men and the function of the identified mutations will be characterized electrophysiologically using voltage-clamp techniques, generating then new insights into the pathophysiology of LQTS in horses.
The benefit of the proposed project will be triple: 1) It will allow for identification of LQTS in horses and will aim at developing a reliable diagnostic test to screen horses for LQTS; 2) It will enable us to exclude them form racing and to reduce sudden deaths during sport events and therefore it will increase safety and animal welfare in racing industry, an important economic factor for many European areas; 3) Similitudes between men and horses in regard to the pathophysiology of LQTS might establish horses as a valuable model for investigating disturbances of repolarisation, especially those occurring in highly trained athletes.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/mutation
- /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/physiology/pathophysiology
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