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Horses with the MH gene mutation appear normal until experiencing extreme exercise or stress, or undergoing anesthesia.Symptoms rapidly appear and, if not quickly controlled, can result in death.Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy With similar symptoms to Malignant Hyperthermia, the genetic defect that causes Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM) is caused by excess glycogen being stored in the muscles, as well polysaccharides (an abnormal form of sugar) to build up in the muscle tissue.
This makes genetic testing essential for those looking to use their horses as breeding stock.
GBED is also known to be a cause of aborted and stillborn foals.
Due to the inability to store energy, the foal’s brain and muscles, including the heart, are unable to function.
The gene mutation causes extra calcium to build up in the muscles, which quickly accelerates the horse’s metabolic rate.
According to the University of Minnesota, the scientific explanation of this is when “a gene mutation in the calcium release channel causes a dysfunction in skeletal muscles resulting in excessive release of calcium inside the muscle cell.” Either way, it’s a huge problem.
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Tying-up is one of the most common symptoms of PSSM, followed closely by sweating, muscle stiffness, and refusing to move, particularly after exercise.