Progressive Axonopathy

Progressive axonopathy is an inherited neurological disease of Boxer dogs marked by a progressive lack of coordination, weakness in the hind limbs, later involving all four limbs, and diminished or absent muscle and tendon reflexes. Absent knee reflexes can be detected at 1 month of age. Signs slowly progress until animals are 12 to 18 months of age, and then tend to stabilize. A disorder with similar clinical signs and clinical course has been observed in the young Rottweiler and Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. Neuroaxonal dystrophy has been seen in Collie, Papillon, Chihuahua, jack Russel Terrier, tricolor shorthair cats, and Siamese cats, while giant axonal neuropathy in German Shepherd Dogs.

There is no treatment for this condition and the prognosis is poor. A neuron is a basic nerve cell of the nervous system. All neurons have one axon, which is a long and slender extension of a neuron capable of conducting nerve impulses over great distances. Only ends of axons (terminals) can release neurotransmitters and stimulate other neurons. When neurons are injured by toxins of metabolic derangement, the frequent outcome is axonal degeneration or axonopathy.

Although the biochemical mechanisms underlying axonal degeneration are unknown, some progress has been made in recent years in understanding the biochemical events that precede and accompany axonal degeneration in certain toxic neurological disorders, especially those associated with repeated exposure to acrylamide, a water-soluble, vinyl monomer that has multiple chemical and industrial applications, such as waste water management and ore processing. In addition, ACR is used extensively in certain foods that have been prepared at very high temperatures such as dry pet food. Extensive studies in rodents and other laboratory animals have provided evidence that exposure to monomeric ACR causes cellular damage in both the nervous and reproductive systems and produces tumors in certain hormonally responsive tissues.

Consumption of some food and beverages can in some cases lead to intoxication and disease. A number of "dietary neurotoxins", compounds that naturally or through human intervention find their way into food and beverages include domoic acid, isoquinolines, carbolines, several pesticides, and two alcohols, methanol and ethanol can cause severe neurotoxic effects in adults and the developing fetus.



  1. Clinical Neurology in Small Animals-Localization, Diagnosis and Treatment, KG Braund (Ed.)
  2. Diet-Brain Connection: Impact on Memory, Mood, Aging and Disease By Mark Paul Mattson
  3. The Changing View of Acrylamide Neurotoxicity. Richard M. LoPachin
  4. Veterinary Neuropathology: Essentials of Theory and Practice. Marc Vandevelde, Robert Higgins, Anna Oevermann

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