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Shar-Pei Dogs Shed Light on Human Fever Syndromes

THURSDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- The gene mutation responsible for the wrinkled skin of Shar-Pei dogs is also linked to a periodic fever disorder, a finding that could have important implications for human health, researchers report.

Shar-Pei dogs have a high prevalence of a periodic fever disorder that is similar to inherited autoinflammatory periodic fever syndromes in humans.

The thick, wrinkled skin of Shar-Pei dogs contains an excess of hyaluronan, most likely because of an over-activation of the hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2) gene. The fever disorder in the dogs occurs when overproduction of hyaluronan activates the immune system, according to scientists at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and Uppsala University in Sweden.

The finding, published in the March 17 online edition of the journal PLoS Genetics, could help improve understanding of human inflammatory diseases, the researchers said. They noted that the genetic cause of periodic fever syndromes in humans is unknown in about 60 percent of cases.

"The finding that hyaluronan is a major trigger of fever opens a new research field in canine and human inflammatory disease," senior author Kerstin Lindblad-Toh said in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about autoinflammatory diseases.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: PLoS Genetics, news release, March 17, 2011

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