Mast cell infiltration occurs in malignant, inflammatory (eg, allergic, infectious), and idiopathic disease processes in humans and animals. Here, we describe the clinical and histological features of a unique proliferative conjunctivitis occurring in 15 cats. Ocular specimens were examined histologically, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1) was performed on ocular tissues obtained from 10 cats. Cats had a median age of 8 years (range: 7 months–17.5 years). The known median duration of ocular lesions prior to biopsy was 4 months (range: 1 week–3 years). Ocular disease was unilateral in 12 cats, and 9 cats had coexisting corneal disease. Clinically and histologically, proliferative or nodular conjunctival lesions were noted in 13 cats. The nictitating membrane was affected in 10 cats. Histologically, lesions were characterized by mixed inflammatory infiltrates with an abundance of Giemsa-positive and toluidine blue–positive intraepithelial and subepithelial mast cells, marked edema, and papillary epithelial hyperplasia. Feline herpesvirus 1 was demonstrated by PCR in 1 of 10 cats tested. Follow-up information was available for 14 cats: 8 had no recurrence during a median follow-up period of 17.5 months (range: 4.5–30 months), 2 underwent orbital exenteration, 3 had recurrence that was medically managed, and 1 cat had diffuse conjunctivitis at the time of biopsy and recurrence was deemed irrelevant. Various ocular medications were administered before and after surgical biopsy. This condition was designated as feline epitheliotropic mastocytic conjunctivitis, with intraepithelial mast cells being an essential feature and papillary epithelial proliferation being characteristic but not diagnostic alone. The condition appears to be uncommon and benign. Although the cause is unknown, an allergic component is possible.
- conjunctival papillary mastocytosis
- feline herpesvirus
- mast cell
- nictitating membrane
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