Severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID) of horses is an autosomal, recessive hereditary disease occurring at about 0.2% of Arabian or crossbred Arabian horses. The disease is characterized by profound immune incompetence where affected individuals are incapable of generating antigen-specific immune responses.
First reported in Arabian foals in 1973, and since reported in the USA, Canada, Great Britain and Australia, SCID is a genetic defect involving a 5-base pair deletion in the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of the DNA dependant protein kinase (DNA-PKcs).
The disease is invariably fatal in homozygous offspring, with death occurring within the first twelve months of life. Homozygous carriers are often asymptomatic but have a higher incidence of neoplasia such as virally-induced sarcoids.
Affected foals often present with variable symptoms such as acute diarrhea, apathy, failure to thrive and pneumonia.
Diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms and hematological evidence of anemia and lymphopenia. A definitive diagnosis requires DNA testing.
There is no specific treatment for this condition, and affected foals invariably succumb to bacterial infections.
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