Immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia and thrombocytopenia in 25 adult equids: 1997-2016

Charlotte A. Easton-Jones, Krista E. Estell, K. Gary Magdesian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Information concerning clinical presentation, conditions associated with immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA) and thrombocytopenia (IMTP) and outcome in equids is lacking. Previous case reports suggest that immune-mediated disease and neoplasia are associated. Objectives: Characterise the clinical presentation, clinicopathologic data, underlying conditions, treatment and outcome of IMHA and IMTP cases in equids. We hypothesise that IMHA with concurrent thrombocytopenia occurs more often than IMHA or IMTP alone, and that neoplasia is commonly associated with these immune diseases and cases frequently have a poor prognosis. Study design: Retrospective case-control study. Methods: Medical records were reviewed from 1997 to 2016. Twenty-five equids were diagnosed with IMHA, IMTP or IMHA with thrombocytopenia by Coombs test or flow cytometry. Controls were equids presented for nonimmune-mediated disease immediately prior to and after study animals. Fisher's exact test was used to compare between groups for categorical variables (P <.05). Results reported as odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Unpaired t test and Mann-Whitney test were used to compare between groups for continuous variables (P <.05). Results: Neoplasia incidence was significantly higher in the study population (28%) versus controls (8%) (P =.04). Equids with primary disease were more likely to survive to discharge than equids with secondary disease (8/9 vs 7/16; P =.03; OR = 13.3; 95% CI: 1.3-134.7). Survivors had a significantly lower blood urea nitrogen (BUN) than those that died or were subjected to euthanasia (survivors, 6.1 ± 2.5 mmol/L vs nonsurvivors, 9.9 ± 3.1 mmol/L P =.003). The odds of short-term mortality were higher in horses presenting with increased BUN (OR = 19.5; 95% CI, 1.8-214.1; P =.009). Main limitations: Retrospective nature of the study, small case numbers and limited long-term follow-up. Conclusions: Primary IMHA/IMTP cases have a reasonable prognosis and warrant treatment. Secondary cases have a poor prognosis, and are frequently associated with cancer. BUN may have utility as a prognostic indicator for IMHA/IMTP cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • horse
  • IMHA
  • IMTP
  • neoplasia
  • outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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