BackgroundNecrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME, aka Pug dog encephalitis) is an inflammatory brain condition associated with advanced disease at initial presentation, rapid progression, and poor response to conventional immunomodulatory therapy.
Hypothesis/objectivesThat genetic risk for NME, defined by a common germline DNA haplotype located on chromosome 12, is associated with altered blood cytokine concentrations and leukocyte subsets in asymptomatic Pugs.
AnimalsForty Pug dogs asymptomatic for NME from a hospital sample.
MethodsProspective observational cohort study, including germline genome-wide genotyping, plasma cytokine determination by multiplexed profiling, and leukocyte subset characterization by flow cytometric analysis.
ResultsSeven (18%) dogs were high risk, 10 (25%) medium risk, and 23 (58%) low risk for NME, giving a risk haplotype frequency of 30%. High and medium risk Pugs had significantly lower proportion of CD4+ T cells (median 22% [range, 7.3%-38%] vs 29% [range, 16%-41%], P = .03) and higher plasma IL-10 concentrations than low-risk Pugs (median 14.11 pg/mL [range, 9.66-344.19 pg/mL] vs 12.21 pg/mL [range, 2.59-18.53 pg/mL], P = .001). No other variables were significantly associated with the NME haplotype-based risk.
Conclusions and clinical importanceThese data suggest an immunological underpinning to NME and a biologic rationale for future clinical trials that investigate novel diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic strategies for this disease.