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Use of anti-coronavirus antibody testing of cerebrospinal fluid for diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis involving the central nervous system in cats

Irene C. Boettcher Dr med vet1, Tanja Steinberg Dr med vet2, Kaspar Matiasek Dr med vet3, Craig E. Greene DVM, MS, DACVIM4, Katrin Hartmann Dr med vet, Dr med vet habil5, and Andrea Fischer Dr med vet, Dr med vet habil, DACVIM6
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  • 1 Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Veterinaerstr. 13, 80539 Munich, Germany
  • | 2 Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Veterinaerstr. 13, 80539 Munich, Germany
  • | 3 Chair of General Pathology and Neuropathology, Institute of Veterinary Pathology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Veterinaerstr. 13, 80539 Munich, Germany
  • | 4 Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7371
  • | 5 Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Veterinaerstr. 13, 80539 Munich, Germany
  • | 6 Clinic of Small Animal Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Veterinaerstr. 13, 80539 Munich, Germany

Abstract

Objective—To assess the use of measuring anti-coronavirus IgG in CSF for the diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) involving the CNS in cats.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—CSF and serum samples from 67 cats.

Procedures—CSF and serum samples were allocated into 4 groups: cats with FIP involving the CNS (n = 10), cats with FIP not involving the CNS (13), cats with CNS disorders caused by diseases other than FIP (29), and cats with diseases other than FIP and not involving the CNS (15). Cerebrospinal fluid was evaluated for concentrations of erythrocytes, leukocytes, and total protein. Anti-coronavirus IgG was measured in CSF and serum by indirect immunofluorescence assay.

Results—CSF IgG (range of titers, 1:32 to 1:4,096) was detected in 12 cats, including 6 cats with neurologic manifestation of FIP, 4 cats with FIP not involving the CNS, and 2 cats with brain tumors. Cerebrospinal fluid IgG was detected only in cats with correspondingly high serum IgG titers (range, 1:4,096 to 1:16,384) and was positively correlated with serum IgG titers (r = 0.652; P < 0.01), but not with any other CSF parameter. Blood contamination of CSF resulted in ≤ 333 erythrocytes/μL in cats with CSF IgG.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The correlation between serum and CSF IgG and the fact that CSF IgG was detected only in strongly seropositive cats suggested that CSF anti-coronavirus IgG was derived from blood. Measurement of anti-coronavirus IgG in CSF was of equivocal clinical use.

Abstract

Objective—To assess the use of measuring anti-coronavirus IgG in CSF for the diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) involving the CNS in cats.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—CSF and serum samples from 67 cats.

Procedures—CSF and serum samples were allocated into 4 groups: cats with FIP involving the CNS (n = 10), cats with FIP not involving the CNS (13), cats with CNS disorders caused by diseases other than FIP (29), and cats with diseases other than FIP and not involving the CNS (15). Cerebrospinal fluid was evaluated for concentrations of erythrocytes, leukocytes, and total protein. Anti-coronavirus IgG was measured in CSF and serum by indirect immunofluorescence assay.

Results—CSF IgG (range of titers, 1:32 to 1:4,096) was detected in 12 cats, including 6 cats with neurologic manifestation of FIP, 4 cats with FIP not involving the CNS, and 2 cats with brain tumors. Cerebrospinal fluid IgG was detected only in cats with correspondingly high serum IgG titers (range, 1:4,096 to 1:16,384) and was positively correlated with serum IgG titers (r = 0.652; P < 0.01), but not with any other CSF parameter. Blood contamination of CSF resulted in ≤ 333 erythrocytes/μL in cats with CSF IgG.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The correlation between serum and CSF IgG and the fact that CSF IgG was detected only in strongly seropositive cats suggested that CSF anti-coronavirus IgG was derived from blood. Measurement of anti-coronavirus IgG in CSF was of equivocal clinical use.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Boettcher's present address is Department of Small Animal Medicine, University of Leipzig, An den Tierkliniken 23, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Presented in part at the 16th Annual Symposium of the European Society of Veterinary Neurology, September 2003, Prague.

The authors thank Lisa Johnson for technical assistance.

Dr. Boettcher was supported by a scholarship from Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung e.V.

Address correspondence to Dr. Boettcher.