Pig stress syndrome linked to gene defect

A defect in a gene called dystrophin is the cause of a newly discovered stress syndrome in pigs, say United States Department of Agriculture scientists.

Stress-related issues, such as transportation, cost the US pig industry an estimated £32 million/ year, and producers and researchers have long suspected that undetected stress-related syndromes are affecting the health and well-being of pigs. This notion was confirmed when scientists discovered a stress syndrome in two three-month-old male siblings that died after being transported from one unit to another.

Molecular biologists mapped the stress disorder to a genetic mutation in dystrophin that causes muscle weakness that can lead to death.

Piglets affected by the syndrome had an abnormal heart rate when treated with anaesthesia, and also had half as much dystrophin protein as their unaffected siblings.

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