Defects in collagen fibrillogenesis causing hyperextensible fragile skin
Two unrelated mixed-breed dogs were donated for studies of their fragile, hyperextensible skin. Breeding of these dogs to bitches with normal skin showed that half of their male and female offspring also had fragile, hyperextensible skin, indicating that the defect was transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait in both dogs. Electron microscopy showed distinct abnormalities in the packing of collagen into fibrils and fibers in affected skin. These packing defects in dermal collagen were identical in related dogs, but were slightly different in unrelated animals. A clinical test, the skin extensibility index, was used to quantitate the extensibility of affected and unaffected skin. This index ranged from 8% to 15% in normal dogs and from 17% to 25% in newborn pups and adult dogs with collagen packing defects. The tensile strength of dorsolateral thoracic skin of affected pups was only 5% to 10% of that of matched specimens of paired littermates. The hyperextensibility and fragility of skin were the only clinical signs, but radiographic and microradiographic studies revealed subclinical involvement of bone.
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