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J Vet Cardiol. 2012 Mar;14(1):103-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jvc.2012.02.001. Epub 2012 Mar 3.

Pathology of myxomatous mitral valve disease in the dog.

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Caspary Research Institute, The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Mitral valve competence requires complex interplay between structures that comprise the mitral apparatus - the mitral annulus, mitral valve leaflets, chordae tendineae, papillary muscles, and left atrial and left ventricular myocardium. Myxomatous mitral valve degeneration is prevalent in the canine, and most adult dogs develop some degree of mitral valve disease as they age, highlighting the apparent vulnerability of canine heart valves to injury. Myxomatous valvular remodeling is associated with characteristic histopathologic features. Changes include expansion of extracellular matrix with glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans; valvular interstitial cell alteration; and attenuation or loss of the collagen-laden fibrosa layer. These lead to malformation of the mitral apparatus, biomechanical dysfunction, and mitral incompetence. Mitral regurgitation is the most common manifestation of myxomatous valve disease and in advanced stages, associated volume overload promotes progressive valvular regurgitation, left atrial and left ventricular remodeling, atrial tears, chordal rupture, and congestive heart failure. Future studies are necessary to identify clinical-pathologic correlates that track disease severity and progression, detect valve dysfunction, and facilitate risk stratification. It remains unresolved whether, or to what extent, the pathobiology of myxomatous mitral valve degeneration is the same between breeds of dogs, between canines and humans, and how these features are related to aging and genetics.

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