-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- A gene associated with eczema
in dogs has been identified, and that might one day lead to better
treatments for people with the skin disease, a new study
The skin of patients with eczema -- whether canine or human --
is easily irritated by allergens such as pollens, house mites and
certain foods. This irritation leads to itching, scratching and
flaky skin that is vulnerable to infections.
Examining the DNA of dogs, the researchers found that a genetic
region associated with eczema contains the gene PKP-2, which
produces a protein important for the formation and proper
functioning of skin structure. The finding suggests that an
abnormal skin barrier is a potential risk factor for eczema, the
study authors said.
"With the help of pet owners, we have managed to collect a unique set of DNA samples from sick and healthy dogs, which allowed us to gain insight into atopic dermatitis genetics," said first author Katarina Tengvall of Uppsala University in Sweden.
The findings, published online May 9 in the journal
PLoS Genetics, could lead to better understanding of the
disease, which may open the door to improved treatments and perhaps
a genetic test for the condition, Tengvall said in a journal news
Eczema affects 10 percent to 30 percent of people and up to 10
percent of dogs. Purebred German shepherds are prone to eczema
because of generations of selective breeding, the researchers
For the study, the researchers compared DNA samples from healthy
dogs with DNA samples from German shepherds that had eczema to
locate the particular genetic segment associated with the disease.
Compared to human DNA, the structure of canine DNA makes it easier
to locate areas that carry disease-risk genes, the researchers
The similarity between canine and human eczema was underscored
by another recent discovery, the researchers said. In that case, a
gene involved in the skin barrier was linked to human eczema.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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