Idiopathic Epilepsy in dogs
Idiopathic Epilepsy (IE) in dogs
Epilepsy can be simply defined as the tendency to have recurrent seizures and the term ‘Idiopathic Epilepsy’ means that no underlying cause for the seizures can be identified. Epilepsy is the most prevalent canine neurological disorder and is consistently identified by breeders as a major cause for concern. Many different breeds suffer from epilepsy although the age of onset and the type and pattern of seizures can differ between breeds.
The AHT Canine Genetics team, in collaboration with veterinary neurologists at the Animal Health Trust, is currently investigating the genetics of Idiopathic Epilepsy in the Border Collie and Italian Spinone. We hope to soon extend our studies to the German Shepherd Dog, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, and Hungarian Vizsla breeds. We will also collect and store DNA samples from dogs of any breed that are confirmed to have epilepsy by a vet.
DNA samples needed
We need DNA samples from affected and unaffected dogs for this study. We are looking for dogs of these five breeds that have been diagnosed with epilepsy at any age.
If your Border Collie, Italian Spinone, German Shepherd Dog, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, or Hungarian Vizsla has epilepsy it would help our research enormously if you could take part in our study. If you would like to take part, it is easy to do:
- Complete a short questionnaire, which you can download: here.
The questionnaire has been designed by one of our specialist veterinary surgeons, Luisa de Risio, Head of Neurology at the AHT, and will provide us with the information we need to group dogs with clinically similar seizures together for our analyses.
- Please tick the box to give us consent to contact your vet.
This is very important in order for us to verify the idiopathic epilepsy diagnosis from which we will base our research.
- Please return the completed questionnaire to us:
Either by scanning and emailing it to: email@example.com,
Or by post to: Chris Jenkins, Canine Genetics Research Group, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, CB8 7UU.
- Cheek swab DNA sample:
We will then send you a cheek swab collection kit to collect your dog’s DNA. Please follow the instructions provided carefully and send the swabs back to us in the envelope provided.
We also require samples from dogs over the age of eight which have never had any seizures
If you would like to provide us with a DNA sample from your older, healthy Border Collie, Italian Spinone, German Shepherd Dog, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, or Hungarian Vizsla, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will send you a cheek swab collection kit.
Affected dogs from other breeds
We will willingly accept and store DNA samples from dogs of any breed that have been diagnosed as suffering from Idiopathic Epilepsy by a veterinary neurologist, with a view to using them in future studies with other breeds.
Additional research in Border Collies and Italian Spinoni
Please see below for more information on the AHT's two longer running projects in the Border Collie and Italian Spinone.
Scientists at the AHT have carried out a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS), or DNA scan, using DNA samples from 102 dogs affected by IE (cases) and 153 dogs over the age of eight which are do not have the disease (controls). We compared thousands of DNA markers in the cases with those in the controls to look for regions in the genome that are consistently shared among cases, but that are different in the controls.
So far we have not found any regions of the genome which are associated with the disease at a statistically significant level.
Scientists at the AHT have conducted a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS), or DNA scan, in the Italian Spinone to search for regions of the DNA that might be involved in idiopathic epilepsy.
Our cases were 30 Italian Spinoni confirmed as having idiopathic epilepsy by Dr Luisa De Risio, Head of Neurology at the AHT, through survey or examination at the AHT. The controls used were 29 Italian Spinoni over the age of seven which had never had a seizure.
The results suggested a region in the genome which might be of interest, but it needed further confirmation as it did not reach the required statistical threshold. An additional nine cases and 18 controls were gathered for us to use to attempt to confirm the genome scan results. In these samples we used DNA sequencing to look at markers in the region of interest identified in the genome scan.
Unfortunately the additional samples tested did not confirm the genome scan results. This means that we have not yet identified any regions of the DNA that are associated with epilepsy in the Italian Spinone. Therefore we are still unable to confirm the mode of inheritance of this condition in this breed.
DNA samples needed
We need more DNA samples from Italian Spinoni to take this study further. Ideally, we would like to collect:
- Another 30 cases (Italian Spinone of any age with idiopathic epilepsy, confirmed by a veterinary neurologist)
- Another 30 controls (Italian Spinone over the age of seven that have never had a seizure)
If you would like to submit a DNA sample from your Italian Spinone to help this research, please contact: