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Canine distemper virus in epidermis of the footpads
Severe hyperkeratosis of the footpads, `hard pad disease`, is one of the clinical manifestations of canine distemper. But what happens in the epidermis? A team from Switzerland and Germany did histopathological and immunhistochemical studies and found a noncytocidal persisting infection of footpad keratinocytes by the distemper virus.

Footpads from 19 dogs experimentally inoculated with virulent distemper strain A75/17 and from two nonexposed dogs were examined histopathologically and assessed for the presence of viral antigen and nucleoprotein mRNA, as well as number of inflammatory and apoptotic cells.

Dogs were divided into four groups based on inoculation status and postmortem examination: inoculated dogs with severe distemper (group 1, n = 7); inoculated dogs with mild distemper (group 2, n = 4); inoculated dogs without distemper (group 3, n = 8); and noninoculated dogs (group 4, n = 2).

Footpads from dogs of all groups had a comparably thick epidermis. Eosinophilic viral inclusions and syncytial cells were present in footpad epidermis of one dog of group 1. Footpads of group 1 dogs contained viral antigen and mRNA in the epidermis with strongest staining in a subcorneal location. Additionally, in these dogs footpad dermal structures including eccrine glands and vascular walls were positive for virus particles.

No CDV antigen or mRNA was present in the footpad epidermis and dermis of any other dog.

Group 1 dogs had more CD3-positive cells and apoptotic cells within the basal layer of the epidermis when compared to the other groups.

These findings demonstrate that in experimental infection CDV antigen and mRNA were colocalized in all layers of the infected canine footpad epidermis. The scarcity of overt pathological reactions with absence of keratinocyte degeneration indicates a noncytocidal persisting infection of footpad keratinocytes by CDV.

Source: GRÖNE, ANDREA, DOHERR, MARCUS G. & ZURBRIGGEN, ANDREAS (2004): Canine distemper virus infection of canine footpad epidermis. In:
Veterinary Dermatology 15 (3), 159-167.








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