Objective—To determine whether heartworm (HW) extract-induced shock in dogs is consistent with anaphylactic shock by examining the role of histamine.
Animals—6 mixed-breed dogs (3 without and 3 with HW infections) and 4 specific pathogen-free (SPF) Beagles.
Procedure—Four experiments were performed as follows: 1) 6 mixed-breed dogs were treated IV with 2 ml of HW extract, and plasma histamine concentrations were determined; 2) 4 SPF dogs were treated IV with 2 ml of HW extract and examined for shock; 3) sera from 6 dogs of experiment 1 and from 4 SPF dogs of experiment 2 that were obtained before HW extract treatment were tested for heterologous passive cutaneous anaphylaxis (PCA), using rabbits during a sensitization period of 48 to 72 hours; and 4) mast cell degranulation by HW extract was tested, using rat mesentery and canine cultured mast cells.
Results—Experiment 1: 6 dogs developed shock, and plasma histamine concentrations increased significantly from 0.3 ± 0.2 (mean ± SD) ng/ml before HW extract treatment to 44.6 ± 68.9 ng/ml at the onset of shock; experiment 2: all SPF dogs developed shock and had an increase in plasma histamine concentrations; experiment 3: sera from mixed-breed dogs without HW infection and from SPF dogs had negative PCA reactions; experiment 4: HW extract degranulated rat mesentery mast cells and released histamine directly from canine mast cells.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of our study indicate that an unknown mast cell-degranulating substances contained in HW extract may degranulate mast cells directly, consequently releasing histamine that may participate in the onset of shock in HW extract-induced shock in dogs. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:770–774)