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Taurine- and carnitine-deficient cardiomyopathy in dogs: does supplementation help?
A very interesting question, which is evaluated in a group of 14 American Cocker Spaniels (ACS) with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM in this breed is supposed to be associated with systemically taurine- or carnitine-deficiency. Does supplementation really help? At least it is worth trying it...

Fourteen American Cocker Spaniels (ACS) with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) were studied to determine if individuals of this breed with DCM are and to determine if they are responsive to taurine and carnitine supplementation.

American Cocker Spaniels with DCM were identified using echocardiography, and plasma was analyzed for taurine and carnitine concentrations.

Each dog was randomly assigned to receive either taurine and carnitine supplementation or placebos.

Echocardiograms and clinical examinations were repeated monthly for 4 months.
During this period, the investigators and owners were blinded with respect to the treatment being administered. Each dog was weaned off its cardiovascular drugs (furosemide, digoxin, and an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor) if an echocardiographic response was identified.

At the 4-month time period, each investigator was asked to decide whether he or she thought his or her patient was receiving placebo or taurine/carnitine, based on presence or absence of clinical and echocardiographic improvement. Unblinding then occurred, and dogs receiving placebos were switched to taurine and carnitine supplementation and followed monthly for 4 additional months.

All dogs were reexamined 6 months after starting supplementation; survival time and cause of death were recorded for each dog.

Data from 3 dogs were not included because of multiple protocol violations.

Each dog had a plasma taurine concentration < 50 nmol/mL (mean +/- SD for the group 15 +/- 17 nmol/ mL) at baseline; normal range, 50-180 nmol/mL.
The plasma taurine concentration did not exceed 50 nmol/mL at any time in the dogs receiving placebos (n = 5), but increased to 357 +/- 157 nmol/mL (range 140-621 nmol/mL) during taurine and carnitine supplementation (n = 11).
Plasma carnitine concentration was within, only slightly below, or slightly above reported limits of normality at baseline (29 +/- 15 mumol/L); did not change during placebo administration; and increased significantly during supplementation (349 +/- 119 mumol/L; n = 11).

Echocardiographic variables did not change during placebo administration.

During supplementation, left ventricular end-diastolic and end-systolic diameters, and mitral valve E point-to-septal separation decreased significantly in both groups.
Shortening fraction increased significantly but not into the normal range. Echocardiographic variables remained improved at 6 months.

All dogs were successfully weaned off furosemide, an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor, and digoxin once an echocardiographic response was identified.

Nine of the dogs have died since the onset of the study in 1992. One dog died of recurrence of DCM and heart failure 31 months after starting supplementation; six dogs died of noncardiac causes.

Two dogs developed degenerative mitral valve disease and died of complications of this disease.

Dogs less than 10 years of age lived for 46 +/- 11 months, whereas dogs older than 10 years of age lived for 14 +/- 7 months.
Two of the 11 dogs were alive at the time of publication, having survived for 3.5 and 4.5 years, respectively.

We conclude that ACS with DCM are taurine-deficient and are responsive to taurine and carnitine supplementation.

Whereas myocardial function did not return to normal in most dogs, it did improve enough to allow discontinuation of cardiovascular drug therapy and to maintain a normal quality of life for months to years.



Source: Kittleson MD, Keene B, Pion PD, Loyer CG. (1997): Results of the multicenter spaniel trial (MUST): taurine- and carnitine-responsive dilated cardiomyopathy in American cocker spaniels with decreased plasma taurine concentration. In: J Vet Intern Med. 1997 Jul-Aug;11(4):204-11.



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