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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pathologic Features of the Intervertebral Disc in Young Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers Confirms Chondrodystrophy Degenerative Phenotype Associated With Genotype.

  • Author(s): Murphy, Brian G
  • Dickinson, Peter
  • Marcellin-Little, Denis J
  • Batcher, Kevin
  • Raverty, Stephen
  • Bannasch, Danika
  • et al.

Chondrodystrophy results in predictable and progressive biochemical and structural changes to the intervertebral disc, resulting in early onset degeneration and dystrophic mineralization of the disc. Accelerated degeneration and mineralization of the intervertebral disc are common in multiple dog breeds and can result in compromised function, herniation, pain, and a variety of neurological sequelae. A mutation responsible for chondrodystrophy in dogs has been identified as an aberrant fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) retrogene insertion on chromosome 12 (CFA12) and is associated with short stature of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Segregation of the CFA12 FGF4 retrogene in this dog breed provides an opportunity to examine the effect of retrogene presence on radiographic and histologic appearance of chondrodystrophic disc degeneration within a single breed. Here we found that in the intervertebral discs isolated from 2 dogs with the CFA12 FGF4 genotype, the nucleus pulposus was largely replaced by cartilaginous tissue, and physaliferous notochordal cells were rarely if ever identified. These findings are in contrast to the normal histologic findings in 2 breed-matched dogs lacking the mutation. The findings are consistent with premature chondroid degeneration of the intervertebral disc and suggest that the presence of the CFA12 FGF4 retrogene is sufficient to cause the chondrodystrophic phenotype.

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