The influence of age and genetics on natural resistance to experimentally induced feline infectious peritonitis

Niels C Pedersen, Hongwei Liu, Barbara Gandolfi, Leslie A Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Naturally occurring feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is usually fatal, giving the impression that immunity to the FIP virus (FIPV) is extremely poor. This impression may be incorrect, because not all cats experimentally exposed to FIPV develop FIP. There is also a belief that the incidence of FIP may be affected by a number of host, virus, and environmental cofactors. However, the contribution of these cofactors to immunity and disease incidence has not been determined. The present study followed 111 random-bred specific pathogen free (SPF) cats that were obtained from a single research breeding colony and experimentally infected with FIPV. The cats were from several studies conducted over the past 5 years, and as a result, some of them had prior exposure to feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) or avirulent FIPVs. The cats were housed under optimized conditions of nutrition, husbandry, and quarantine to eliminate most of the cofactors implicated in FIPV infection outcome and were uniformly challenge exposed to the same field strain of serotype 1 FIPV. Forty of the 111 (36%) cats survived their initial challenge exposure to a Type I cat-passaged field strains of FIPV. Six of these 40 survivors succumbed to FIP to a second or third challenge exposure, suggesting that immunity was not always sustained. Exposure to non-FIP-inducing feline coronaviruses prior to challenge with virulent FIPV did not significantly affect FIP incidence but did accelerate the disease course in some cats. There were no significant differences in FIP incidence between males and females, but resistance increased significantly between 6 months and 1 or more years of age. Genetic testing was done on 107 of the 111 infected cats. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) segregated the 107 cats into three distinct families based primarily on a common sire(s), and resistant and susceptible cats were equally distributed within each family. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on 73 cats that died of FIP after one or more exposures (cases) and 34 cats that survived (controls) demonstrated four significant associations after 100k permutations. When these same cats were analyzed using a sib-pair transmission test, three of the four associations were confirmed although not with genome-wide significance. GWAS was then done on three different age groups of cases to take into account age-related resistance, and different associations were observed. The only common and strong association identified between the various GWAS case configurations was for the 34.7-45.8. Mb region of chromosome A3. No obvious candidate genes were present in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 15 2014


  • Age resistance
  • Experimental
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Genetic resistance
  • GWAS
  • Natural immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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