According to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, cats that suffered burns and smoke inhalation during urban wildfires in California are at risk of forming blood clots. mortals. The study, recently published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Sciencefollows a previous discovery which showed that cats injured in urban wildfires had a high incidence of heart problems.
“Prior to these two papers, we did not know that cats affected by urban wildfires were susceptible to clots, which can lead to sudden death,” said co-lead author Ronald Li, associate professor of emergency and intensive care for small animals at UC Davis. “This study will change the standard of care for cats rescued from these wildfires and hopefully save more lives.”
Cats treated for their injuries from the 2018 campfire in Paradise, Calif., were among the models in this study. The researchers looked at their platelets, the cells that circulate in the blood and help stop bleeding or form blood clots. They found that wildfire-injured cats had an increase in overactive platelets compared to healthy cats or cats with heart disease, in this case subclinical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. HCM is the most common heart disease in cats and causes thickening of the heart muscle.
“Cats with HCM are hypercoagulable, which means they are more likely to form clots,” explained co-lead author Ava Tan, a veterinary researcher currently working in Li’s lab. used them as a control group to compare with cats in the wildfire group.”
Platelets from wildfire-injured cats also released large amounts of microvesicles, microscopic membranous bubble-like structures filled with proteins, which are associated with cardiovascular disease and a high risk of clotting.
“We found that cats exposed to wildfire smoke and injury were even more prone to shed clots, showing a direct association between wildfire injury, platelet response and clot formation” , said Tan.
In addition to clot formation, platelets have a lot to do with health and cardiovascular disease in general. The study also led to the discovery of a new receptor on cat platelets, Toll-Like-Receptor-4, which may play a role in coagulation and could be the target of treatments developed in the future.
“These findings may have broader implications for the health of our feline patients and underscore the important role platelets play in linking inflammation to the coagulation system,” Li said.
Impact on human health
Forest fires also pose a major risk to humans. ER visits are increasing due to heart attacks and strokes after wildlife exposure. Although the underlying mechanism is not known in humans, this cat study may shed light on the systemic activation of platelets, which plays a crucial role in mediating the likelihood of developing blood clots. from injuries caused by a forest fire.
“This study opens a new door to examining the impact of wildfires on cardiovascular health in humans,” Li said.
The researchers were able to use blood samples taken from cats brought in for campfire treatment, which have been used in these two studies to date. This study also led to a third study, which is ongoing, to uncover new cellular processes that may explain why feline platelets are so sensitive and prone to clotting, especially in cats with heart problems or injuries caused by a forest fire. The data collected is essential for developing early treatment plans, Li said.
Other authors include veterinary cardiologists Joshua Stern, Catherine Gunther-Harrington and Ashley Sharpe; critical care veterinary specialists Yu Ueda, Steven Epstein and Satoshi Haginoya; and research associates Nghi Nguyen and Mehrab Hussain of Li’s Comparative Platelet and Neutrophil Physiology Laboratory.
Are cats the “canary in the coal mine” for the effects of wildfires on human health?
Avalene W.K. Tan et al, Platelet priming and activation in natural thermal burns and exposure to wildfire smoke are associated with intracardiac thrombosis and spontaneous echocardiographic contrast in feline survivors, Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2022.892377
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