Background: Approximately 30% of Persian cats have a c.10063C > A variant in polycystin 1 (PKD1) homolog causing autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). The variant is lethal in utero when in the homozygous state and is the only ADPKD variant known in cats. Affected cats have a wide range of progression and disease severity. However, cats are an overlooked biomedical model and have not been used to test therapeutics and diets that may support human clinical trials. To reinvigorate the cat as a large animal model for ADPKD, the efficacy of imaging modalities was evaluated and estimates of kidney and fractional cystic volumes (FCV) determined. Methods: Three imaging modalities, ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging examined variation in disease presentation and disease progression in 11 felines with ADPKD. Imaging data was compared to well-known biomarkers for chronic kidney disease and glomerular filtration rate. Total kidney volume, total cystic volume, and FCV were determined for the first time in ADPKD cats. Two cats had follow-up examinations to evaluate progression. Results: FCV measurements were feasible in cats. CT was a rapid and an efficient modality for evaluating therapeutic effects that cause alterations in kidney volume and/or FCV. Biomarkers, including glomerular filtration rate and creatinine, were not predictive for disease progression in feline ADPKD. The wide variation in cystic presentation suggested genetic modifiers likely influence disease progression in cats. All imaging modalities had comparable resolutions to those acquired for humans, and software used for kidney and cystic volume estimates in humans proved useful for cats. Conclusions: Routine imaging protocols used in veterinary medicine are as robust and efficient for evaluating ADPKD in cats as those used in human medicine. Cats can be identified as fast and slow progressors, thus, could assist with genetic modifier discovery. Software to measure kidney and cystic volume in human ADPKD kidney studies is applicable and efficient in cats. The longer life and larger kidney size span than rodents, similar genetics, disease presentation and progression as humans suggest cats are an efficient biomedical model for evaluation of ADPKD therapeutics.
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