Shar Pei Wrinkles and Mucinosis

Shar peis are known for their wrinkles, deep dermal folds that make them look like the Michelin Man.  What causes the wrinkles?  Hyaluronan the major compoment of mucin.  Shar peis have a genetic defect that leads to excess production of hyaluronan, formerly called hyaluronic acid.  Although the excess hyaluronan makes this breed of dog very cute, it does have a down side.  When hyaluronan is broken down, the degredation products cause inflammation leading to a painful condition called mucinosis.  Prednisolone will decrease production of hyaluronan but will also also decrease the wrinkles.  Pictured below is Lulu, one of the most beautiful Shar peis I have ever seen.  I hope she never gets mucinosis because I love her wrinkles!

Source:  Zanna, G., et al., Hereditary cutaneous mucinosis in shar pei dogs is associated with increased hyaluronan synthase 2-mRNA transcription by cultured dermal firbroblasts. Vet Dermatol 2009;20(5-6)377-82.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.