Genome-wide association study of equine herpesvirus type 1-induced myeloencephalopathy identifies a significant single nucleotide polymorphism in a platelet-related gene

M. M. Brosnahan, Mohammed Al-Abri, S. A. Brooks*, D. F. Antczak, N. Osterrieder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1)-induced myeloencephalopathy (EHM) is a neurologic disease of horses that represents one outcome of infection. The neurologic form of disease occurs in a subset of infected horses when virus-induced endothelial cell damage triggers vasculitis and subsequent ischemic insult to the central nervous system. EHM causes considerable animal suffering and economic loss for the horse industry. Virus polymorphisms have been previously associated with disease outcome but cannot fully explain why only some horses develop EHM. This study investigated the role of host genetics in EHM. DNA samples were collected from 129 horses infected with EHV-1 (61 that developed EHM and 68 in which disease resolved without the development of neurologic signs) during natural outbreaks or experimental infections. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed to investigate host genetic variations associated with EHM. Genotyping was performed using the Illumina SNP50 and SNP70 arrays and a custom Sequenom array. Mixed linear model (MLM) analysis using a recessive model identified one marker that surpassed the threshold for genome-wide significance (P < 0.001) after Bonferroni correction. The marker (BIEC2_946397) is in an intron of the tetraspanin 9 (TSPAN9) gene, which is expressed in endothelial cells and platelets. The GWAS identified a region in the horse genome that is associated with EHM in the sample population and thus warrants further exploration. Understanding the contribution of host genetic variation to the development of EHM will enhance our knowledge of disease pathophysiology, and lead to improved strategies for treating individual cases and managing outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Journal
Publication statusPublished - Dec 12 2018


  • Equine
  • Equine herpesvirus 1
  • Genome-wide association study
  • Virology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary

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