A study of residual lesions in horses that recovered from clinical signs of chronic equine dysautonomia

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Abstract / Description of output

Background Equine dysautonomia (ED) causes degeneration and loss of autonomic neurons. Approximately 50% of chronic cases recover, but it is unclear how they survive neuronal loss. Objectives To assess lesions, autonomic neuron numbers, interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC), and neurodegeneration in recovered cases. Animals Thirteen cases (group ED), euthanized 10.3 ± 5.2 (1–16) years from diagnosis and 6 age‐matched controls (group C). Methods Prospective, case control; routine post mortem examination, neuron counts in peripheral and enteric ganglia and immunohistochemical assessment of neural networks (Protein gene product [PGP] 9.5), ICC (c‐kit), and neurodegeneration (beta‐amyloid precursor protein and ubiquitin) in intestine. Results Postmortem findings in group ED were small intestinal dilation (4/12, 33%) and muscular hypertrophy (4/12, 33%), and gastric mucosal hypertrophy (3/11, 27%) and ulceration (4/11, 36%). Neuron density was lower in group ED (mean 39% lower for cranial cervical ganglion [P < .001], median 44% lower in celiacomesenteric ganglion [P = .01]). In intestine, neuronal depletion was worst in ileum (median 100% lower in submucosal plexus [P < .001], 91% lower in myenteric plexus [P = .004]). Group ED had less PGP 9.5 staining in ileal myenteric plexus (mean 66% lower [P = .04]) and circular muscle (median 75% lower [P = .006]). In ileum, there was less c‐kit staining in myenteric plexus (median 57% lower [P = .02]) but not muscularis externa. Beta‐amyloid precursor protein and ubiquitin results were not indicitive of neurodegeneration. Conclusions and Clinical Importance Intact ICC in muscularis externa might help maintain motility after neuronal loss. Treatment supporting ICC function warrants investigation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Early online date22 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2019


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