Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a primary non-curable disease of the heart muscle characterized by thickening of the left ventricular walls. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in human beings is frequently caused by an inherited defect in the gene of a cardiac contractile protein. Clinically, feline HCM is very similar to HCM in humans. The disease may result in heart failure and sudden death. The best hope for future cats is that the genetic cause of the disease can be found so that potential breeding cats with the disease can be identified and eliminated from breeding programs.
The investigators have identified families of domestic cats with HCM. The characteristics of the disease in these cats are very similar to those in humans with genetic HCM. These findings support the hypothesis that feline HCM is inherited and may be caused by mutations in contractile protein genes. The investigators have already screened 75% of these genes and have not identified any abnormalities. The remaining 25% of the genes will be evaluated. DNA will be extracted from the blood of affected and normal cats. The DNA sequence of the genes from normal cats and from the affected cats will be compared to detect any abnormalities that are specific to the affected cats. Subsequently, genetics tests will be formulated to easily and rapidly detect these mutations. (Continuation of a grant awarded in 1995)