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J Feline Med Surg. 2017 Jun;19(6):672-679. doi: 10.1177/1098612X16653165. Epub 2016 Jun 15.

Systolic blood pressure, routine kidney variables and renal ultrasonographic findings in cats naturally infected with feline immunodeficiency virus.

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1 Department of Small Animal Medicine and Clinical Biology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium.
2 Department of Medical Imaging of Domestic Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium.
3 Department of Comparative Physiology and Biometrics, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium.


Objectives Hypertension is a common cause of proteinuria in HIV-infected people. In cats, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection appears to be associated with proteinuria. Therefore, the results from systolic blood pressure (SBP) measurements in naturally infected FIV-positive cats were reviewed to assess whether hypertension contributes to the observed proteinuria in these cats. Ultrasonographic findings in FIV-positive cats were reviewed to complete renal assessment and to extend the scant knowledge on renal ultrasonography in cats. Methods Data from client-owned, naturally infected FIV-positive cats were retrospectively reviewed. To obtain a control group, records were reviewed from age-matched, privately owned, FIV-negative cats. Results Data from 91 FIV-infected and 113 control cats were compared. FIV-infected cats showed a significantly lower SBP ( P <0.0001) and significantly fewer FIV-infected cats were hypertensive (⩾160 mmHg) compared with control cats ( P = 0.025). The prevalence of renal azotaemia did not significantly differ between groups, although FIV-infected cats had significantly lower urine specific gravity (USG) ( P = 0.0273) and a higher incidence of USG below 1.035 ( P = 0.043). Urinary protein:creatinine ratio (UPC) was significantly higher in FIV-infected cats ( P = 0.0005) and proteinuria (UPC >0.4) occurred more frequently in FIV-infected cats ( P <0.001). Renal ultrasonography showed abnormalities in 60/91 FIV-infected cats, with hyperechogenic cortices in 39/91 and enlarged kidneys in 31/91. Conclusions and relevance Hypertension can be excluded as a common cause of renal damage leading to proteinuria in FIV-infected cats. Proteinuria and poorly concentrated urine are common in naturally infected FIV-positive cats, in contrast to azotaemia. Clinicians should cautiously interpret ultrasonographic abnormalities as these occur in over half of FIV-infected cats.

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