Atopic dermatitis in a cohort of West Highland white terriers in Switzerland. Part II: estimates of early life factors and heritability
Background There is accumulating evidence in studies of allergic diseases in humans and dogs that environmental experiences during the first months of life can influence the development of allergic disease. No prospective study has evaluated this in veterinary medicine. Hypothesis/Objectives To assess early‐life risk factors for canine atopic dermatitis (cAD) and estimate its heritability. Animals A West Highland white terrier birth cohort (n = 107) followed up to three years of age recording the development of cAD. Methods and materials The effect of environmental factors [house dust mites (HDM), hygiene, feeding, lifestyle] and early‐life determinants [breeder, mode of delivery, birth season, sex, litter size, early‐life immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels] were assessed, using Stata SE 15.1 statistical analysis. Heritabilities were estimated using the R program packages MCMCglmm and QGglmm. Results Maternal allergic status [P = 0.013, odds ratio (OR 3.3)], male sex (P = 0.06), mode of delivery (P = 0.12), breeder (P = 0.06), presence of HDM (P = 0.11) and environmental hygiene level (P = 0.15) were identified as possible influence factors by bivariate analyses. In the multivariate analysis the male sex was significantly associated with the development of cAD in the offspring (P = 0.03, OR 2.4). The heritabilities on the observed scale were 0.31 (direct), 0.04 (maternal genetic effects) and 0.03 (maternal permanent environmental effects). Conclusion and clinical importance These results suggest that several environmental factors could influence the development of cAD but clearly demonstrate the genetic influence of the individual and the dam. Further studies are needed to identify specific environmental factors, which could be potential targets for primary disease intervention.
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