Feline infectious peritonitis–the ultimate hypersensitivity (Proceedings)


FIP – nothing's ever simple....It is a multifactoral disease involving virus factors, host factors, and environmental factors. The virus of FIP is feline coronavirus (FCoV) – interestingly, it is required but not sufficient for FIP. Coronaviruses have a large RNA genome.

FIP – nothing's ever simple....It is a multifactoral disease involving virus factors, host factors, and environmental factors. The virus of FIP is feline coronavirus (FCoV) – interestingly, it is required but not sufficient for FIP. Coronaviruses have a large RNA genome. They are enveloped with helical capsid. The spike protein in the envelope is used for cellular attachment – determines in part cellular tropism. The virus is transmitted via the fecal oral route. It initially infects the intestines, where it infects mature epithelia of villus tips. It may cause mild to severe enteritis. In many infections, viremia and systemic spread may occur. The virus targets monocytes, and may be found in most parenchymal organs. The majority of infected cats remain healthy despite the systemic spread. Efficient replication of FCoV in monocytes and macrophages is a requirement for FIP development.

Coronaviruses mutate frequently – an infected cat may have a "cloud" of variants - viruses that differ genetically and/or antigenically have been identified within a single host. These changes may lead to change in virulence of the virus. However, no specific mutation has been identified that consistently correlates with disease production.

Host factors are important as well, specifically, the character and magnitude of the immune response to the virus. There appears to be a genetic predisposition, with heritability along familial lines. Concurrent disease can also predispose, especially immunosuppressive disease such as FeLV or FIV infection (affects CMI). FIP is often precipitated by 'stressful' episode (affects CMI).Cats that develop FIP have an exaggerated humoral response. The inflammation induced by virus and virus-infected cells produces the lesions of FIP.

Lymphocytes, specifically T lymphocytes undergo apoptosis in cats with FIP. This is not due to virus infection of these cells – so what's the mechanism? Cytokine production/imbalance? At least one study (Regan, A. D., et al., Virology, Nov 2008) has shown that virus infection leads to alteration of intra-cellular signaling pathways in infected monocytes. This in turn leads to production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Tests for FCoV cannot distinguish infection with avirulent vs. virulent FCoV thus no test specific for FIP exists. Serology is often used as a diagnostic aid, but caution is required in interpretation of FCoV serologic results - magnitude does NOT always correlate, i.e. a cat with FIP may have a low or even negative titer, and healthy cats exposed to or infected with FCoV may have very high titers. Serology assessing the response to a specific viral protein, the 7b protein was speculated to be specific for FIP. However, the presence of 7b-specific antibodies cannot confirm the FIP diagnosis, as cats with other conditions, as well as healthy cats, may be 7b seropositive. Virus-specific assays have also not shown specificity for the diagnosis of FIP. Is there a consistent difference between the "evil twin" and the "good twin" that can be exploited in a specific assay? There may be no single virus factor that consistently correlates with virulence that could be exploited in an FIP-specific assay; host factors are important. Diagnosis remains a combination of parameters.

Various therapies have been tried for FIP. Immunosuppressive drugs to reduce the inflammation and control the immune response may ameliorate some of the signs. Nonspecific immune Interferon has not shown success in treatment of FIP. A new treatment using a T lymphocyte stimulator has shown some promise.


Vennema H, Poland A, Foley J, et al. Feline infectious peritonitis viruses arise by mutation from endemic feline enteric coronaviruses. Virology 1998;243(1):150-157.

Kipar A, Baptiste K, Barth A, et al. Natural FCoV infection: cats with FIP exhibit significantly higher viral loads than healthy infected cats. J Feline Med Surg 2006;8(1):69-72.

Rottier PJM, Nakamura K, Schellen P, et al. Acquisition of macrophage tropism during the pathogenesis of feline infectious peritonitis is determined by mutations in the feline coronavirus spike protein. J Virol 2005;79(22):14122–14130.

. de Groot-Mijnes JDF, van Dun JM, van der Most RG, et al. Natural history of a recurrent feline coronavirus infection and the role of cellular immunity in survival and disease. J Virol 2005;79(2):1036–1044.

Meli M, Kipar K, Müller C, et al. High viral loads despite absence of clinical and pathological findings in cats experimentally infected with feline coronavirus (FCoV) type I and in naturally FCoV-infected cats. J Feline Med Surg 2004;6(2):69-81.

Pedersen NC. Virologic and immunologic aspects of feline infectious peritonitis virus infection. Adv Exp Med Biol 1987;218:529–550.

Haagmans BL, Egberink HF, Horzinek MC. Apoptosis and T-cell depletion during feline infectious peritonitis. J Virol 1996;70(12):8977–8983.

Pesteanu-Somogyi LD, Radzai C, Pressler BM. Prevalence of feline infectious peritonitis in specific cat breeds. J Feline Med Surg 2006;8(1):1-5.

Foley JE, Pedersen NC. The inheritance of susceptibility to feline infectious peritonitis in purebred catteries. Feline Pract 1996;24(1):14-22.

Hartmann K, Binder C, Hirschberger J, et al. Comparison of different tests to diagnose feline infectious peritonitis. J Vet Intern Med 2003;17(6):781–790.

Sparkes AH, Gruffydd-Jones TJ, Harbour DA. An appraisal of the value of laboratory tests in the diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1994;30(4):345-350.

Kennedy MA, Brenneman K, Millsaps RK, et al. Correlation of genomic detection of feline coronavirus with various diagnostic assays for feline infectious peritonitis. J Vet Diagn Invest 1998;10(1):93-97.

Kennedy MA, Abd-Eldaim M, Zika SE, et al. Evaluation of antibodies against feline coronavirus 7b protein for diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis in cats. Am J Vet Res 2008;69(9):1179-1182.

Hartmann K. Feline infectious peritonitis. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2005;35(1):39–79.

Legendre AM, Bartges JW. Effect of Polyprenyl Immunostimulant on the survival times of three cats with the dry form of feline infectious peritonitis. J Feline Med Surg 2009 May 23.

Related Videos
© 2023 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.