Identification of Cattle at Risk of High Altitude Pulmonary Hypertension
Available for Licensing
US Utility Patent: US 10138522
John A Phillips
At A Glance
Researchers at CSU have discovered and patented a method of identifying cattle having (or are at risk of) High Altitude Pulmonary Hypertension (HAPH) – often referred to as “brisket disease” – by measuring genetic variants that confer such susceptibility. The causative HAPH gene can be screened by DNA analysis and provide ranchers the appropriate identification to which animals cannot tolerate high altitude and subsequently remove them from that environment. Further, the test can be used as a diagnostic or a prognostic test for use prior to shipping cattle to higher elevations or in breeding operations.
High mountain disease (brisket disease) is right heart failure due to pulmonary hypertension in cattle residing at high altitude. Pulmonary hypertension is defined as mean pressure in the pulmonary circulation greater than 25 mmHg. If pulmonary hypertension is severe or prolonged, the right ventricle is unable to pump effectively and heart failure ensues with loss of the animal.
Hypoxia is the most potent stimulus for pulmonary hypertension and the hypoxia of high altitude (>7000 ft) is a well known cause. Some cattle (Bos taurus) have a genetic susceptibility to severe high altitude pulmonary hypertension (HAPH) that is heritable. While most cattle thrive at high altitude, susceptible cattle develop pulmonary hypertension that is sufficient to cause right heart failure, edema of the brisket, and death.
HAPH in cattle occurs in about 15% of animals brought to high altitude (>7000 ft) to replenish herds, and costs ranchers millions of dollars of lost income each year. Current predictive tests for at-risk cattle is a measure of pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP). This current PAP test has major drawbacks: (1) it is an invasive test; and (2) it is not accurate at lower elevations – so at-risk cattle cannot be identified before incurring the cost of transport to high altitude.
There is no treatment for the disease except prompt removal of the animal to lower elevations.
Last updated on October 7, 2019.