Background: Bovine Spastic Paresis (BSP) is a neuromuscular disorder which affects both male and female cattle. BSP is characterized by spastic contraction and overextension of the gastrocnemious muscle of one or both limbs and is associated with a scarce increase in body weight. This disease seems to be caused by an autosomal and recessive gene, with incomplete penetration, although no genes clearly involved with its onset have been so far identified. We employed cDNA microarrays to identify metabolic pathways affected by BSP in Romagnola cattle breed. Investigation of those pathways at the genome level can help to understand this disease.Results: Microarray analysis of control and affected individuals resulted in 268 differentially expressed genes. These genes were subjected to KEGG pathway functional clustering analysis, revealing that they are predominantly involved in Cell Communication, Signalling Molecules and Interaction and Signal Transduction, Diseases and Nervous System classes. Significantly enriched KEGG pathway's classes for the differentially expressed genes were calculated; interestingly, all those significantly under-expressed in the affected samples are included in Neurodegenerative Diseases. To identify genome locations possibly harbouring gene(s) involved in the disease, the chromosome distribution of the differentially expressed genes was also investigated.Conclusions: The cDNA microarray we used in this study contains a brain library and, even if carrying an incomplete transcriptome representation, it has proven to be a valuable tool allowing us to add useful and new information to a poorly studied disease. By using this tool, we examined nearly 15000 transcripts and analysed gene pathways affected by the disease. Particularly, our data suggest also a defective glycinergic synaptic transmission in the development of the disease and an alteration of calcium signalling proteins. We provide data to acquire knowledge of a genetic disease for which literature still presents poor results and that could be further and specifically analysed in the next future. Moreover this study, performed in livestock, may also harbour molecular information useful for understanding human diseases.
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