Recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER) in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses is characterized by episodes of muscle rigidity and cell damage that often recur upon strenuous exercise. The objective was to evaluate the importance of genetic factors in RER by obtaining an unbiased estimate of heritability in cohorts of unrelated Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses. Four hundred ninety-one Thoroughbred and 196 Standardbred racehorses were genotyped with the 54K or 74K SNP genotyping arrays. Heritability was calculated from genomewide SNP data with a mixed linear and Bayesian model, utilizing the standard genetic relationship matrix (GRM). Both the mixed linear and Bayesian models estimated heritability of RER in Thoroughbreds to be approximately 0.34 and in Standardbred racehorses to be approximately 0.45 after adjusting for disease prevalence and sex. To account for potential differences in the genetic architecture of the underlying causal variants, heritability estimates were adjusted based on linkage disequilibrium weighted kinship matrix, minor allele frequency and variant effect size, yielding heritability estimates that ranged between 0.41-0.46 (Thoroughbreds) and 0.39-0.49 (Standardbreds). In conclusion, between 34-46% and 39-49% of the variance in RER susceptibility in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses, respectively, can be explained by the SNPs present on these 2 genotyping arrays, indicating that RER is moderately heritable. These data provide further rationale for the investigation of genetic mutations associated with RER susceptibility.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
National Institutes of Health (1K081R055713-01A2 to M.E.M.; T32 Institutional Training Grant in Comparative Medicine and Pathology, 5T320D010993-12, supporting E.M.N.); the University of Minnesota Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center (P30 Pilot funding); and the Horserace Betting Levy Board.
- Muscle disease