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Goeckmann, Victoria; Rothammer, Sophie and Medugorac, Ivica (2016): Bovine spastic paresis: A review of the genetic background and perspectives for the future. In: Veterinary Journal, Vol. 216: pp. 64-71

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Bovine spastic paresis (BSP) is a sporadic, progressive neuromuscular disease that is thought to affect all breeds of cattle. The disease manifests as a unilateral or bilateral hyperextension of the hind limb due to increased muscle tone or permanent spasm of mainly the gastrocnemius and/or the quadriceps muscle. Clinical signs only appear in rising, standing and moving animals, which is an important diagnostic feature. Although several medical treatments have been described, surgical procedures such as neurectomy or tenectomy are generally indicated. Even though complete recovery can be achieved, BSP-affected animals should not be used for breeding, since BSP is commonly considered a hereditary disease. The condition therefore negatively affects animal welfare, economics and breeding. When first described in 1922, BSP was already assumed to be heritable, and this assumption has been perpetuated by subsequent authors who have only discussed its possible modes of inheritance, which included monogenetic and polygenetic modes and gene-environment interactions. Besides some clinical aspects and the consideration of the tarsal joint angle as a BSP-correlated trait, this review mainly focuses on the assumed genetic aspects of BSP. Evaluation of the published literature demonstrates that to date, irrevocable proof for the assumed heritability of BSP is still missing. The assumption of heredity is further contradicted by known allele frequencies and incidences of proven hereditary diseases in cattle, such as arachnomelia or bovine spinal muscular atrophy. Consequently, future research is needed to determine the cause of spastic paresis. Procedures that will help test the null-hypothesis ('BSP is not hereditary') and possible modes of inheritance are discussed in this review. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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