Looking at the link between HTN and CKD in cats through genome wide association

A study reported on the Vet Surgeon website tells us that the UK’s Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has conducted the world’s first genome wide association study between hypertension and chronic kidney disease. My interpretation of this is that they are looking for the genetic background to the linkage between these two diseases. Perhaps they are trying to assess whether particular genes are responsible for both diseases because they do occur together.

Studying the genetic linkage between feline CKD and HTN
Studying the genetic linkage between feline CKD and HTN. Image: Pixabay.

The RVC states that about 30% of domestic cats in the UK aged 10 years or older have chronic kidney disease (CKD). This amounts to about 600,000 cats in the UK. Of these, about 40% will also have hypertension (HTN) i.e. high blood pressure.

With respect to people, there is a direct linkage between hypertension and kidney disease. To me, this strongly indicates that the same causation will be present in domestic cats because their anatomy is very similar and many diseases that cats suffer from are also present in people for the same reasons.

High blood pressure in humans is a leading cause of CKD as it damages blood vessels over time throughout the body. This reduces blood pressure to important organs like the kidneys. High blood pressure also damages the filtering units in kidneys. This prevents kidneys removing waste and extra fluid from blood. The extra fluid in the blood vessels builds up causing an increase in blood pressure. It is a circuitous causation.

High blood pressure can also be a complication of CKD. This is in humans and therefore, as mentioned, the linkage is probably present in cats.

The research on the link between hypertension and kidney disease cats was led by Dr. Roseanne Jepson at the RVC with joint leading author Dr. Helen Warren from Queen Mary University, London, and Professor Patricia Munroe.

They examined the medical records of 1022 domestic cats who had been seen at the Royal Veterinary College’s Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital and Bow PDSA Pet Hospital since 1992. They were looking for “genetic associations with CKD and HTN (hypertension) using a genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach.

They are excited about the study because it allows them to explore “genetic influences” on the development of these diseases. My understanding is that they can add this information to known information about lifestyle and environmental causes of these diseases to create a complete picture.

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