Keren Dittmer

Doctor of Philosophy, (Veterinary Pathology)
Study Completed: 2009
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Inherited Rickets in Corriedale Sheep

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Ms Dittmer’s research investigated a newly discovered form of inherited rickets in Corriedale sheep. She characterised the genetic and phenotypic features of the disease, and investigated the disease mechanism. Although initial data supported a defect in the vitamin D receptor, in vitro studies using cultured skin fibroblasts revealed normal vitamin D receptor function. Subsequent experiments suggested a mechanism based on inappropriate overexpression of the 24-hydroxylase enzyme, which metabolises the active form of vitamin D. Such a mechanism has not previously been described as a cause of inherited rickets in humans or other animal species. This new form of inherited rickets may be widespread in the New Zealand Corriedale sheep population and has considerable potential as a model for studying aspects of vitamin D metabolism.

Professor Keith Thompson
Professor Kathryn Stowell
Professor Hugh Blair
Associate Professor Laryssa Howe