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W13-029: Phenotypic characterization of feline cardiomyopathy in Norwegian Forest cats using echocardiography, plasma biomarkers and histopathology

Norwegian Forest cats (NFC) are at risk of an inherited form of heart muscle disease (NFC cardiomyopathy) that can result in heart failure and early death in young cats. The diagnosis can be confirmed by necropsy. Mild thickening of heart muscle may be present in less severely affected cats despite an outwardly healthy appearance. The disease usually goes undetected without special diagnostic tests, as most affected cats are normal on a physical exam. An ultrasound exam of the heart (echocardiogram) is the standard test used, but must be carried out by trained, experienced cardiologists for accurate results, thus limiting the availability of this test. Preliminary studies suggest that even for trained cardiologists, NFC cardiomyopathy may be particularly difficult to identify with a heart ultrasound test in the early stages. New blood tests (biomarkers) are showing promise as a means of identifying early heart disease in cats, and could be particularly useful in NFC cardiomyopathy. This study will compare the results of a heart ultrasound with the newer blood tests (‘NT-proBNP’ and ‘hsTnI’) as a means of identifying cats with NFC cardiomyopathy. DNA samples will also be stored from each screened cat to be used in genetic studies looking for the inherited mutation responsible for NFC cardiomyopathy. Identifying the underlying genetic mutation could lead to a blood test or even cheek swab test for identifying cats with NFC cardiomyopathy, thus making it easier for breeders to exclude affected cats from the breeding population. (Breed Study)

Grant ID: W13-029

Status: Active

Year Funded: 2013

Amount awarded: $23,577

Investigator: Virginia Luis Fuentes; Royal Veterinary College, University of London