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Diagnosis of FIP

Winn funded research

Kennedy, M. A., M. Abd-Eldaim, et al. (2008). “Evaluation of antibodies against feline coronavirus 7b protein for diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis in cats.” American Journal of Veterinary Research 69(9): 1179-1182.

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a lethal, complex, and clinically important disease of cats caused by feline coronavirus (FCoV). FCoV occurs in two biotypes: one that is virulent and causes FIP, and one that is nonvirulent. FIP occurs in an effusive form characterized by pleural effusion or ascites, as well as a granulomatous form that may affect several organs. No consistent genetic difference has been identified that can distinguish all virulent from nonvirulent FCoVs. As a result, antemortem diagnosis of FIP is difficult because no test that is specific and sensitive for the FIP virus is available. It has been suggested that the product of the 7b gene is a virulence factor. If expression of the 7b protein consistently leads to FIP, cats infected with virulent FCoV would be expected to have measurable antibodies against this protein, whereas cats infected with the nonvirulent FCoV would not. This would allow differentiation of cats infected with virulent FCoV from those infected with a nonvirulent strain. The purpose of this study was to determine specific antibody concentrations against the 7b protein in cats with FIP or other diseases and healthy cats. Serum samples from 95 cats submitted for various diagnostic tests as well as 20 samples from specific pathogen free cats used as negative controls were tested for antibodies against the 7b protein. Serum from cats with FIP had antibodies against the 7b protein. However, some healthy cats, as well as cats with other diseases, were seropositive for the 7b protein. The researchers conclude that seropositivity for the 7b protein is not specific for the FCoV virulent biotype or a diagnosis of FIP.

>> PubMed abstract

Related articles:
Hartmann, K., C. Binder, et al. (2003). “Comparison of different tests to diagnose feline infectious peritonitis.” J Vet Intern Med 17(6): 781-90.

>> PubMed abstract