Canine epilepsy genetics

Mamm Genome. 2012 Feb;23(1-2):28-39. doi: 10.1007/s00335-011-9362-2. Epub 2011 Oct 30.


There has been much interest in utilizing the dog as a genetic model for common human diseases. Both dogs and humans suffer from naturally occurring epilepsies that share many clinical characteristics. Investigations of inherited human epilepsies have led to the discovery of several mutated genes involved in this disease; however, the vast majority of human epilepsies remain unexplained. Mouse models of epilepsy exist, including single-gene spontaneous and knockout models, but, similar to humans, other, polygenic models have been more difficult to discern. This appears to also be the case in canine epilepsy genetics. There are two forms of canine epilepsies for which gene mutations have been described to date: the progressive myoclonic epilepsies (PMEs) and idiopathic epilepsy (IE). Gene discovery in the PMEs has been more successful, with eight known genes; six of these are orthologous to corresponding human disorders, while two are novel genes that can now be used as candidates for human studies. Only one IE gene has been described in dogs, an LGI2 mutation in Lagotto Romagnolos with a focal, juvenile remitting epilepsy. This gene is also a novel candidate for human remitting childhood epilepsy studies. The majority of studies of dog breeds with IE, however, have either failed to identify any genes or loci of interest, or, as in complex mouse and human IEs, have identified multiple QTLs. There is still tremendous promise in the ongoing canine epilepsy studies, but if canine IEs prove to be as genetically complex as human and murine IEs, then deciphering the bases of these canine epilepsies will continue to be challenging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dogs
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / genetics
  • Epilepsies, Partial / veterinary*
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Epilepsy / veterinary*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Kv1.1 Potassium Channel / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Myoclonic Epilepsies, Progressive / genetics
  • Myoclonic Epilepsies, Progressive / veterinary*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • LGI1 protein, human
  • Proteins
  • Kv1.1 Potassium Channel