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Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2006 Jan-Feb;119(1-2):55-61.

[Autoantibodies against structures of the central nervous system in steroid responsive meningitis-arteriitis in dogs].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für Kleine Haustiere der Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, Hannover.


Steroid-responsive meningitis-arteriitis (SRMA) is a disease of dogs familiar in small animal practice for decades. A combined evaluation of IgA in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is an important diagnostic tool. It is suspected that immunpathological mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of SRMA because of the marked response to steroids. Excessive production of IgA seems to play a central role and might be caused by an immune reaction to self-antigens of the central nervous system (CNS). To test this hypothesis, we analyzed CSF samples from 55 dogs with SRMA using the western blot method. After blotting canine brain tissue, IgA, IgM and IgG of the CSF samples were tested for their binding to CNS antigens. We also evaluated CSF samples from 45 dogs with other brain diseases, including different encephalitides and intracranial tumors, and from healthy dogs as controls. Positive reactions (mostly IgA) were observed in the CSF samples from dogs with SRMA, different encephalitides and brain tumors (a total of 8% positive samples). The occurrence of autoantibodies against CNS structures was significantly higher in the control group "other brain diseases" than in the SRMA group (p = 0.0135). There was no significant difference in the number of positive samples between dogs with SRMA and the negative control group (healthy dogs, p = 0.1535). Despite the small number of positive samples, only dogs with abnormal findings in the CSF analysis also had autoantibodies in the CSF. There was no significant correlation between the occurrence of autoantibodies and levels of IgA, protein content and cell counts in the cerebrospinal fluid. However, there was a certain trend toward positive reactions in CSF samples with high protein content. The occurrence of autoantibodies in dogs with SRMA thus seems to be an epiphenomenona rather than the cause of the disease.

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