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Vet Dermatol. 2015 Apr;26(2):95-e26. doi: 10.1111/vde.12198. Epub 2015 Feb 22.

Review: Role of genetics and the environment in the pathogenesis of canine atopic dermatitis.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, NC, 27606, USA.



Multiple levels of evidence support the role of genetics and the environment in the pathogenesis of canine atopic dermatitis (AD).


This review summarizes the current evidence in genetics and the effect of environmental factors on the development and perpetuation of canine AD.


Citation databases, abstracts and proceedings from international meetings published between 2001 and 2013 were reviewed in this update. Where necessary, older articles were included for background information.


Canine AD is a heritable disease, in which interaction with environmental factors influences disease risk and phenotype. A study of British guide dogs indicated that nearly 50% of the risk of developing AD was determined by an individual's genotype. Genomic studies performed so far in canine AD have uncovered numerous gene candidates likely to be involved in pathogenesis through their role in immunity, skin barrier formation, apoptosis and inflammation. In addition to genetics, there is evidence to suggest that exposure to certain environmental factors influences the prevalence and course of canine AD. For example, living in rural areas or feeding noncommercial diets was negatively associated with the development of AD in dogs, while exposure to high levels of smoke was associated with increased prevalence of allergic skin disease.


It is becoming clear that canine AD is genotypically complex and influenced by a variety of environmental factors. Well-designed studies with sufficient statistical power will be critical to identify the complex genetic and environmental factors involved in disease development and progression. Recognition of such factors may help to identify new targets for therapy and enable better disease prevention and management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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