Feline infectious peritonitis as a systemic inflammatory disease:contribution of liver and heart to the pathogenesis

Alexandra Malbon, Sonja Fonfara, Marina L Meli, Shelley Hahn, Herman Egberink, Anja Kipar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal immune-mediated disease of cats, induced by feline coronavirus (FCoV). A combination of as yet poorly understood host and viral factors combine to cause a minority of FCoV-infected cats to develop FIP. Clinicopathological features include fever, vasculitis, and serositis, with or without effusions; all of which indicate a pro-inflammatory state with cytokine release. As a result, primary immune organs, as well as circulating leukocytes, have thus far been of most interest in previous studies to determine the likely sources of these cytokines. Results have suggested that these tissues alone may not be sufficient to induce the observed inflammation. The current study therefore focussed on the liver and heart, organs with a demonstrated ability to produce cytokines and therefore with huge potential to exacerbate inflammatory processes. The IL-12:IL-10 ratio, a marker of the immune system’s inflammatory balance, was skewed towards the pro-inflammatory IL-12 in the liver of cats with FIP. Both organs were found to upregulate mRNA expression of the inflammatory triad of cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α in FIP. This amplifying step may be one of the missing links in the pathogenesis of this enigmatic disease.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019


  • feline infectious peritonitis
  • feline coronavirus
  • hepatocytes
  • cardiomyocytes
  • inflammatory cytokines
  • pathogenesis
  • systemic inflammatory response


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