An Assessment of the Molecular Basis of Toxin-induced Dilated Cardiomyopathy in an Avian Animal Model
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a disease of the myocardium, causes morbidity and premature death in humans and other domestic animals including turkeys. Though DCM results from many different factors including those that are unknown or idiopathic, genetic factor is a major cause of idiopathic DCM. In this study, I assessed the molecular basis of toxin-induced DCM in turkeys by evaluating the association and effect of mutations in candidate genes in the nucleus and mitochondria on the incidence and severity of this disease. Echocardiographic measurements at 3 weeks of age showed that birds on furazolidone-containing diet exhibited a significant DCM phenotype (increased left ventricular end diastolic dimension and left ventricular end systolic dimension) with a marked decrease in the left ventricular shortening fraction. Pathological phenotype confirmed the dilated heart with extended cell necrosis. Two mutations, both in NADH dehydrogenase genes, were found to be associated with DCM. Real-time RT-PCR quantification indicated that mRNA expression of alpha cardiac actin gene (ACTC) were significantly different between control and treatment birds. While ACTC expression increased, though moderately, in control birds from week 1 to 3, it decreased significantly in treatment birds. These findings suggest that the mitochondrial DNA variation and ACTC expression may be associated with the turkey's response to toxin. Therefore, further research is needed to investigate the molecular mechanism of toxin-induced DCM in the turkey.