1632: Canine Degenerative Myelopathy: Role of Methionine Supplementation and Further Evaluation of Associated Enteropathy

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $72,920
Dr. Joan R. Coates, DVM, Texas A&M University
October 1, 1998 - September 30, 2000
Sponsor(s): American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Breed(s): German Shepherd Dog
Research Program Area: Treatment

Abstract

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a degenerative spinal cord disease affecting primarily, but not exclusively, older German Shepherd Dogs. Affected dogs show progressive rear limb weakness and eventually paralysis. Intestinal abnormalities have been described in affected dogs, and we suspect that an essential amino acid, methionine, may be deficient secondary to abnormal intestinal absorption. An imbalance of methionine or related substances in the blood of spinal fluid may affect the production of myelin, the fatty covering of the nerves that is essential to their function. If this is true, dietary supplementation with methionine may halt neurologic deterioration or improve neurologic signs. Testing blood or spinal fluid for concentrations of methionine and related substances may allow dogs at risk to receive early treatment before clinical signs of disease become apparent. Identification of such dogs also could help prevent them from being used for breeding purposes. Newly established tests of intestinal function will be used to further characterize abnormalities in dogs with DM. We also will redefine neurologic-based testing procedures to monitor disease progression and will utilize modern methods to evaluate the microscopic characteristics of the disease. We anticipate that the results of the proposed studies will help assist in the accurate diagnosis and monitoring of DM, allowing evaluation of new therapies and assisting in the future identification of a genetic marker for DM.

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