To characterize the frequency and type of bacterial infection by culture- and immunohistochemical (IHC)-based methods and determine the impact of infection on clinical features and survival time in cats with suppurative cholangitis-cholangiohepatitis syndrome (S-CCHS).
168 client-owned cats with S-CCHS (cases).
Clinical features, bacterial culture results, culture-inoculate sources, and survival details were recorded. Cases were subcategorized by comorbidity (extrahepatic bile duct obstruction, cholelithiasis, cholecystitis, ductal plate malformation, biopsy-confirmed inflammatory bowel disease, and biopsy-confirmed pancreatitis) or treatment by cholecystectomy or cholecystoenterostomy. Culture results, bacterial isolates, Gram-stain characteristics, and IHC staining were compared among comorbidities. Lipoteichoic acid IHC staining detected gram-positive bacterial cell wall components, and toll-like receptor expression IHC reflected pathologic endotoxin (gram-negative bacteria) exposure.
Clinical features were similar among cases except for more frequent abdominal pain and lethargy in cats with positive culture results and pyrexia, abdominal pain, and hepatomegaly for cats with polymicrobial infections. Bacteria were cultured in 93 of 135 (69%) cats, with common isolates including Enterococcus spp and Escherichia coli. IHC staining was positive in 142 of 151 (94%) cats (lipoteichoic acid, 107/142 [75%]; toll-like receptor 4, 99/142 [70%]). With in-parallel interpretation of culture and IHC-based bacterial detection, 154 of 166 (93%) cats had bacterial infections (gram-positive, 118/154 [77%]; gram-negative, 111/154 [72%]; polymicrobial, 79/154 [51%]). Greater frequency of bacterial isolation occurred with combined tissue, bile, and crushed cholelith inoculates. Infection and gram-positive bacterial isolates were associated with significantly shorter long-term survival times.
S-CCHS was associated with bacterial infection, pathologic endotoxin exposure, and frequent polymicrobial infection in cats. Combined tissue inoculates improved culture detection of associated bacteria.