Association of HPA axis-related genetic variation with stress reactivity and aggressive behaviour in pigs.

Eduard Muráni, Siriluck Ponsuksili, Richard B D'Eath, Simon P Turner, Esra Kurt, Gary Evans, Ludger Thölking, Ronald Klont, Aline Foury, Pierre Mormède, Klaus Wimmers
BMC Genet. 2010-01-01; 11(1): 74
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2156-11-74

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1. BMC Genet. 2010 Aug 9;11:74. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-11-74.

Association of HPA axis-related genetic variation with stress reactivity and
aggressive behaviour in pigs.

Muráni E(1), Ponsuksili S, D’Eath RB, Turner SP, Kurt E, Evans G, Thölking L,
Klont R, Foury A, Mormède P, Wimmers K.

Author information:
(1)Research Unit Molecular Biology, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology
FBN, Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, D-18196 Dummerstorf, Germany.

BACKGROUND: Stress, elicited for example by aggressive interactions, has negative
effects on various biological functions including immune defence, reproduction,
growth, and, in livestock, on product quality. Stress response and aggressiveness
are mutually interrelated and show large interindividual variation, partly
attributable to genetic factors. In the pig little is known about the
molecular-genetic background of the variation in stress responsiveness and
aggressiveness. To identify candidate genes we analyzed association of DNA
markers in each of ten genes (CRH g.233C>T, CRHR1 c.*866_867insA, CRHBP c.51G>A,
POMC c.293_298del, MC2R c.306T>G, NR3C1 c.*2122A>G, AVP c.207A>G, AVPR1B
c.1084A>G, UCN g.1329T>C, CRHR2 c.*13T>C) related to the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, one of the main stress-response
systems, with various stress- and aggression-related parameters at slaughter.
These parameters were: physiological measures of the stress response (plasma
concentrations of cortisol, creatine kinase, glucose, and lactate), adrenal
weight (which is a parameter reflecting activity of the central branch of the HPA
axis over time) and aggressive behaviour (measured by means of lesion scoring) in
the context of psychosocial stress of mixing individuals with different
aggressive temperament.
RESULTS: The SNP NR3C1 c.*2122A>G showed association with cortisol concentration
(p = 0.024), adrenal weight (p = 0.003) and aggressive behaviour (front lesion
score, p = 0.012; total lesion score p = 0.045). The SNP AVPR1B c.1084A>G showed
a highly significant association with aggressive behaviour (middle lesion score,
p = 0.007; total lesion score p = 0.003). The SNP UCN g.1329T>C showed
association with adrenal weight (p = 0.019) and aggressive behaviour (front
lesion score, p = 0.029). The SNP CRH g.233C>T showed a significant association
with glucose concentration (p = 0.002), and the polymorphisms POMC c.293_298del
and MC2R c.306T>G with adrenal weight (p = 0.027 and p < 0.0001 respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: The multiple and consistent associations shown by SNP in NR3C1 and
AVPR1B provide convincing evidence for genuine effects of their DNA sequence
variation on stress responsiveness and aggressive behaviour. Identification of
the causal functional molecular polymorphisms would not only provide markers
useful for pig breeding but also insight into the molecular bases of the stress
response and aggressive behaviour in general.

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2156-11-74
PMCID: PMC2927472
PMID: 20696048 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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