Dr Rosanne Jepson, along with Professor Jonathan Elliott, Professor Harriet Syme (all RVC) and Dr Helen Warren and Professor Patricia Munroe (Queen Mary University of London), have been awarded a grant by PetPlan Charitable Trust for £87k to "unravel the genetic basis for blood pressure and kidney function in the cat".
Chronic kidney disease is reported to affect over 30% of cats over the age of 15 years but as we diagnose kidney disease at an earlier time point, the prevalence may be much higher. Older cats and particularly those with kidney disease are also predisposed to hypertension. Both chronic kidney disease and hypertension can have a substantial impact on quality of life for ageing cats.
Chronic kidney disease and hypertension are considered to be complex diseases. This means that they can be influenced by many genes as well as environmental factors. Variation in the genetic data of an individual (genome) called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) can be used to identify regions of the genome and therefore genes that are associated with the development of disease.
A chip based technology has been developed for cats, which allows us to characterise approximately 63000 genetic variants across the feline genome. This technology will be used to analyse DNA samples from 1000 cats to look for regions of the genome that are associated with kidney function and also blood pressure. It is hoped that information from this study will enhance our understanding of which genes may be involved in the development of both kidney disease and hypertension in cats.