Created at the VGL Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA)

Quick Summary

Equine cerebellar abiotrophy (CA) is an inherited neurological condition found primarily in Arabian horses, and is characterized by neurological defects in foals including head tremors and ataxia.

Click here for Price and Turnaround Time

Phenotype: Affected horses may show exaggerated action of the forelegs, a wide-based stance, and be unable to rise from a reclining position. They tend to startle easily and often fall due to ataxia. Some foals show very severe signs, including the exaggerated gaits and dramatic lack of balance. Others have little more than a head tremor, which may only manifest itself during goal-directed movement.

Mode of Inheritance: Autosomal recessive

Alleles: N = Normal/Unaffected, CA = Cerebellar abiotrophy

Breeds appropriate for testing: Arabian, Danish Sport Horse, Trakehner, Welsh Pony

Explanation of Results:

  • Horses with N/N genotype will not have cerebellar abiotrophy and cannot transmit this cerebellar abiotrophy variant to their offspring.
  • Horses with N/CA genotype will not be affected by cerebellar abiotrophy, but are carriers. They may transmit this cerebellar abiotrophy variant to 50% of their offspring. Matings between two carriers result in a 25% chance of producing a cerebellar abiotrophy-affected foal.
  • Horses with CA/CA genotype will have cerebellar abiotrophy.

Turnaround Time
At least 15 business days; may be delayed beyond 15 business days if sample requires additional testing, or a new sample is requested.
Price

$45 one test per animal
+ $15 each additional test from list below:

$85 entire Arabian Health Panel (all 4 tests)

Sample Collection

Horse DNA tests are carried out using cells from the roots of a hair sample (roughly 20-30 hairs).

1. Grab about 10 hairs at the base.

2. Wrap the hairs around your finger and give it a quick pull.

3. Check the ends to make sure the pulled hairs have roots.

4. Repeat the process until you have collected about 20-30 hairs with intact roots.

5. You can choose different places on the mane or tail. NOTE: For foals, we recommend pulling all hairs from the tail only. 

6. Tape the hairs to the submission form and fold the form along the dotted line to protect the sample. Do not use ziploc bags as they can cause condensation that allows mold to grow on the hair.

Hairs with roots

7. Place the folded form containing the sample in a paper envelope and mail it to the laboratory.

 

Additional Details

Equine cerebellar abiotrophy (CA) is a genetic, neurological condition found almost exclusively in Arabian horses. Results from breeding experiments carried out at the University of California, Davis indicate a recessive mode of inheritance for this condition. This means a horse can "carry" the disease gene but not be affected.

Foals affected with CA appear normal at birth. Around six weeks of age (although sometimes as late as four months), the disease causes the death of neurons in the cerebellum of affected foals, leading to head tremor (intention tremor) and a lack of balance equilibrium (ataxia), among other neurological deficits. Affected horses may show exaggerated action of the forelegs, a wide-based stance, and be unable to rise from a reclining position. They tend to startle easily and often fall due to ataxia. The neurological problems may not be apparent to owners and are frequently thought to be a consequence of a fall rather than CA.

Signs of CA are variable. Some foals show very severe signs, including the exaggerated gaits and a dramatic lack of balance. Others have little more than the head tremor, which may only manifest itself during goal-directed movement. A small number of horses classified as affected by the genetic test have been reported by owners as showing no signs. CA foals that show signs of the disease are often euthanized or restricted to life as pasture pets, as they are never coordinated enough to be ridden safely. Affected horses are also a danger to themselves because the condition predisposes them to accidents and injury. Veterinarians can perform a series of neurological tests to determine if signs are consistent with CA.

Research carried out at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory by Drs. Leah Brault and Cecilia Penedo identified a mutation that is associated with CA. The diagnostic CA test allows identification of horses that are affected or that carry the specific mutation. For horse breeders, identification of carriers is critical for the selection of mating pairs to avoid production of affected foals. Breedings of carrier horses have a 25% chance of producing an affected foal. Breedings between normal and carrier horses will not produce a CA foal, although 50% of the foals are expected to be carriers.

The CA mutation has been found in low frequency in other breeds, such as Danish Sport Horse, Bashkir Curly, Trakehner, and Welsh Pony, that have used Arabian horses as foundation stock. The CA test is recommended for horses that have Arabian ancestors in their pedigree.