BACKGROUND: Canine diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common endocrine disease in domestic dogs. A number of pathological mechanisms are thought to contribute to the aetiopathogenesis of relative or absolute insulin deficiency, including immune-mediated destruction of pancreatic beta cells. DM risk varies considerably between different dog breeds, suggesting that genetic factors are involved and contribute susceptibility or protection. Associations of particular dog leucocyte antigen (DLA) class II haplotypes with DM have been identified, but investigations to date have only considered all breeds pooled together. The aim of this study was to analyse an expanded data set so as to identify breed-specific diabetes-associated DLA haplotypes.
METHODS: The 12 most highly represented breeds in the UK Canine Diabetes Register were selected for study. DLA-typing data from 646 diabetic dogs and 912 breed-matched non-diabetic controls were analysed to enable breed-specific analysis of the DLA. Dogs were genotyped for allelic variation at DLA-DRB1, -DQA1, -DQB1 loci using DNA sequence-based typing. Genotypes from all three loci were combined to reveal three-locus DLA class II haplotypes, which were evaluated for statistical associations with DM. This was performed for each breed individually and for all breeds pooled together.
RESULTS: Five dog breeds were identified as having one or more DLA haplotype associated with DM susceptibility or protection. Four DM-associated haplotypes were identified in the Cocker Spaniel breed, of which one haplotype was shared with Border Terriers. In the three breeds known to be at highest risk of DM included in the study (Samoyed, Tibetan Terrier and Cairn Terrier), no DLA haplotypes were found to be associated with DM.
CONCLUSIONS: Novel DLA associations with DM in specific dog breeds provide further evidence that immune response genes contribute susceptibility to this disease in some cases. It is also apparent that DLA may not be contributing obvious or strong risk for DM in some breeds, including the seven breeds analysed for which no associations were identified.