An Update on Feline Infectious Peritonitis: Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Pedersen NC. An update on feline infectious peritonitis: Diagnostics and therapeutics.
Vet J. 2014 May 2. pii: S1090-0233(14)00177-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.04.016.
[Epub ahead of print]

Author information:
Center for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California,
One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Electronic address:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

This review is concerned with what has been learned about feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) diagnostics and therapeutics since the publication of an extensive overview of literature covering the period 1963-2009. Although progress has been made in both areas, obtaining a definitive diagnosis of FIP remains a problem for those veterinarians and/or cat owners who require absolute certainty. This review will cover both indirect and direct diagnostic tests for the disease and will emphasize their limitations, as well as their specificity and sensitivity. There is still no effective treatment for FIP, although there are both claims that such therapies exist and glimmers of hope coming from new therapies that are under research. FIP has also been identified in wild felids and FIP-like disease is now a growing problem among pet ferrets.

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Pedersen NC1, Liu H2, Gandolfi B3, Lyons LA3.

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 Something about the study and its significant findings:

 This investigation spanned over three years between 2010-2013 and involved cats gathered from several past and present studies

 Important information on FIP gained by this study:

1) We confirmed that random bred cats have a significant degree of natural resistance (immunity), something not previously documented.

2) Other host, viral and environmental factors that can affect natural resistance were eliminated as variables in the study, thus demonstrating the importance of eliminating or minimizing practices and procedures that might inhibit natural resistance.

3) We demonstrated that immunity was not always long lasting, something previously shown for feline enteric coronavirus infection but not for FIP. This may be one explanation for FIP in older cats.

4) We provided evidence for potential genetic resistance factors in random bred cats, just as we demonstrated earlier for naturally occurring FIP in pedigreed Birmans.  However, these associations were complex (polygenic) and different than what we observed in Birmans, indicating that as with Rome, many roads lead to FIP Resistance.

5) Cats that maintained strong and long-lasting immunity are being used to create a colony of cats to study genetic resistance factors.  If such heritable resistance factors exist, they could be introduced into pedigreed cat breeds.

6)  Information and tissues from cats that both died and survived FIP virus infection have been used to conduct two in-press publications concerning the manner in which the virus affects the host and how host immunity affects the virus. Knowledge of how FIP virus is able to evade the immune system in most cats is vital to developing targeted drug therapies.

7) We obtained and preserved materials in the form of specific tissues, RNA and DNA for future studies.

 8) We emphasized again the difficulties in conducting complex genetic studies with relatively small cohorts of cats with limitations in the genetic tools that are available for this species.

Take home message: 

Many cats have a natural immunity to FIP, which is strong in some individuals and tenuous in others. Natural immunity is affected by age at the time of infection and possible genetic factors. Combining these findings with information gleaned from previous studies, we conclude that the most effective current tool in preventing cases of FIP is to limit the severity of feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) exposure in young kittens and minimize stresses that may inhibit natural resistance factors during the crucial period when mutant FECVs (i.e., FIP viruses) first occur. – N. C. Pedersen

An Update on Feline Infectious Peritonitis: Virology and Immunopathogenesis
Pedersen NC. An update on feline infectious peritonitis: virology and immunopathogenesis.
Vet J. 2014 May 2. pii: S1090-0233(14)00178-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.04.017.
[Epub ahead of print]

Author information:
Center for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of
California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Electronic address:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) continues to be one of the most researched infectious diseases of cats. The relatively high mortality of FIP, especially for younger cats from catteries and shelters, should be reason enough to stimulate such intense interest. However, it is the complexity of the disease and the grudging manner in which it yields its secrets that most fascinate researchers. Feline leukemia virus infection was conquered in less than two decades and the mysteries of feline immunodeficiency virus were largely unraveled in several years. After a half century, FIP remains one of the last important infections of cats for which we have no single diagnostic test, no vaccine and no definitive explanations for how virus and host interact to cause disease. How can a ubiquitous and largely non-pathogenic enteric coronavirus transform into a highly lethal pathogen? What are the interactions between host and virus that determine both disease form (wet or dry) and outcome (death or resistance)? Why is it so difficult, and perhaps impossible, to develop a vaccine for FIP? What role do genetics play in disease susceptibility? This review will explore research conducted over the last 5 years that attempts to answer these and other questions. Although much has been learned about FIP in the last 5 years, the ultimate answers remain for yet more studies.

Access entire article:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090023314001786
Copyright © 2014 The Author. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.