Genetic Analysis of Toxin-Induced Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

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Virginia Tech


Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) or round heart disease is a muscle disease of the heart which is characterized by ventricular dilatation and abnormal systolic and diastolic left ventricular function. In animals, including turkeys and humans, DCM is the major cause of morbidity and mortality which results from heart failure. In the turkey, DCM can be idiopathic or induced. Since idiopathic or spontaneous DCM occurs in about 1-4% of normal turkeys, it is of significant concern to the poultry industry. In this study, it was proposed that the incidence and severity of DCM in the turkey may have a genetic basis. To test this hypothesis, I investigated differences in the incidence and severity of DCM in five domesticated turkey varieties including Blue Slate (BS), Bourbon Red (BR), Narragansett (N), Royal Palm (RP) and Spanish Black (SB). Preliminary investigations tested the reliability of echocardiography (ECHO) as a non-invasive and non-destructive technique for diagnosing DCM in a large number of birds from hatch to four weeks-of-age. One-day-old poults for both the preliminary and hypothesis testing investigations were obtained from Privett Hatcheries (Portales, New Mexico). The birds were raised under standard management conditions. In the preliminary investigation and to test my hypothesis, DCM was induced by feeding birds ad libitum standard diets containing 700 parts per million furazolidone. Results of the preliminary investigations showed that left ventricular end-diastolic dimension (LVEDD) and left ventricular end-systolic dimension (LVESD) were the most consistent ECHO indicators of DCM from hatch to 4 weeks-of-age. Variety differences in response to furazolidone were evaluated using these parameters as well as percent mortality. At 9 days-of-age, differences between control and treatment birds for percent mortality and LVESD were significant in the RP variety only but significant for LVEDD in RP and SB. At 29 and 33 days-of-age, all the pair-wise comparisons between control and treatment birds were significant for both LVEDD and LVESD. On average, the BR variety had the smallest dilatation of the heart and lowest mortality at 33 days-of-age when compared to other varieties. The results described in this thesis show, for the first time, variety differences in the turkey's response to diets containing furazolidone. They provide strong evidence that, like previous reports for idiopathic DCM, an animal's response to Fz-induced DCM has a strong genetic component.



Dilated cardiomyopathy, Genetics, Turkeys