First reported case of fragile foal syndrome type 1 in the Thoroughbred caused by PLOD1 c.2032G>A

Alexandra S. Grillos, Jessica M. Roach, Amanda M. de Mestre, Alastair K Foote, Nicole B. Kinglsey, Michael J. Mienaltowski, Rebecca R. Bellone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome Type 1 (WFFS) is an autosomal recessive disorder reported previously only in warmbloods and thought to be caused by a variant in the gene procollagen-lysine,2-oxoglutarate 5-dioxygenase 1 (PLOD1, c.2032G>A, p.Gly678Arg). Given the presentation of this Thoroughbred case, we hypothesised that a similar genetic mechanism caused this phenotype. Objectives: To describe the pathological and genetic findings on a foal presenting to a veterinary practice in the UK with skin lesions similar to other Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes, including those documented for warmbloods with WFFS. Study design: A single case report describing a genetic investigation. Methods: A Thoroughbred foal presenting as dystocia was euthanised for multiple skin lesions and developmental abnormalities. DNA extracted from the foal was tested for the PLOD1 variant (c.2032G>A, p.Gly678Arg) using the commercially available assay. To confirm causality and further interrogate potential novel causes of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, 1799 functional candidate genes, including PLOD1, were analysed using whole genome sequencing data generated from DNA extracted from the foal's muscle. These data were compared to 34 control samples from at least 11 other breeds. Variants were prioritised for further evaluation based on predicted impact on protein function. Results: Post-mortem evaluation concluded that this foal suffered from a condition of collagen dysplasia. The foal was homozygous for the c.2032G>A PLOD1 variant. Only two other missense variants identified from whole genome sequencing data were also computationally predicted to be deleterious to protein function, (NPHP3 c.1253T>C, p.Leu418Pro, EPDR1 c.154G>C, p.Glu52Gln). Neither of these genes have been linked to similar phenotypes, or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in humans or other species and thus further investigation of these variants as the cause of EDS was not warranted. Main limitations: This study is a single case report in the Thoroughbred with no additional cases from this breed yet identified to replicate this finding. Conclusions: Given the clinical presentation similar to WFFS, homozygosity for the PLOD1 variant, and absence of another more plausible causal variant from the WGS experiment, we conclude that PLOD1 c.2032G>A is the likely cause of this foal's condition. This is the first documented evidence of fragile foal syndrome caused by the PLOD1 variant in a breed outside of warmbloods, the Thoroughbred. We therefore recommend a change in the name of this disorder to fragile foal syndrome type 1 (FFS) and utilisation of genetic testing in Thoroughbreds to avoid producing affected foals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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