July 2019 Research Roundup

A look at some of the latest published research studies coming from the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine this month …


Effective Treatments for Autoimmune Skin Disease

Canine, feline and equine vitiligo often mirror their human counterparts, though effective treatments for the autoimmune skin disease in the three species remain unclear, according to a comprehensive review of the condition co-authored by Thierry Olivry and Keith Linder.

The study, published in BMC Veterinary Research, looks into vitiligo and canine uveodermatologic syndrome, a rare immune system disease where the body forms antibodies against its own skin’s pigment cells and light-sensing cells of the eye. Vitiligo is characterized by substantial losses of functional epidermal melanocytes, leading to depigmentation of the skin, lips or mouth. Vitiligo was first reported in dogs in 1971, in cats in 1986 and in horses in the 1960s.

Read the study here.

Improving Plasma Biochemistry in Box Turtles

A study evaluating six biochemical enzymes within 10 different tissues in eastern box turtles outlines levels of enzyme activity in parts of the turtle anatomy, a first step toward improving clinical interpretation of plasma biochemistry panels in box turtles.

Plasma enzymes are commonly analyzed during diagnostic evaluations of zoological species, but effectively interpreting them is complicated by lack of knowledge about tissue of origin in many reptiles, according to the study.

The research, co-authored by Greg Lewbart and alumni Anthony Cerreta and John Griffioen and published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, noted several box turtle enzyme characteristics, including the activity of creatine kinase being highest in skeletal and cardiac muscles, as well as the gastrointestinal tract.

Read the study here.


Therapeutic Interventions for Dogs with Spinal Cord Injuries

Center of pressure measurements can be obtained in dogs with chronic deficits after acute severe spinal cord injuries and may be useful in identifying post-injury changes in limb strength, stability and coordination, according to a new study co-authored by Natasha Olby.

Though further refinement is needed, the gait analysis tool technique has potential to effectively monitor response to types of therapeutic interventions for dogs with SCI, a condition that may leave dogs with chronic motor impairment. The Journal of Neurotrauma published the research.

Read the study here.


Femoral Remains of Homo naledi Sheds Light on Newly Discovered Human Ancestor

The remains of one of the most complete South African fossil hominin femurs ever discovered sheds new light on the anatomy of Homo naledi, a newly discovered ancestor of Homo sapiens.

 Christopher Walker is the lead author of the paper analyzing the femoral remains, which was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. The three femoral elements, discovered in the Lesedi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system in Gauteng province, supports the thought that H. naledi was built for long distance walking or perhaps running. 

The evolutionary significance of some of the unique femoral features, such as superior neck pillars. Remains unclear. Remains of H. naledi discovered in one of the cave’s chambers have been dated to between 236,000 and 335,000 years old.

Read more here.


 Aquapuncture and Anesthesia

Aquapuncture at the point Pericardium 6 (PC-6) did not reduce the incidence of dexmedetomidine-induced vomiting or nausea severity in cats, according to new research.

Drug-induced nausea and vomiting during or following anesthesia can lead to complications such as aspiration pneumonia and increased intracranial pressure. Aquapuncture, which uses a hypodermic needle to add fluid to acupuncture points, at the PC-6 point significantly reduces vomiting and nausea in humans and dogs after anesthesia. Dexmedetomidine is regularly used in veterinary medicine to provide pain relief and sedation.

Lysa Posner and Kimberly Hassen are among the authors of the study, published in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia.

Read the study here.


Documenting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Adult Horses

A suspected case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in an adult horse in the American Southeast is outlined in a new paper co-authored by Katie Sheats.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not currently recognized as a clinical disease in horses. However, the research findings strongly suggest an infection with Rickettsia rickettsii, the bacterium that causes RMSF. Other tick-borne pathogens once thought to impact only humans, cats and dogs have been recently documented as causing diseases in horses.

More than 50% of human RMSF cases over the last 30 years were reported in North Carolina, Arkansas Tennessee, Missouri or Oklahoma. The Journal of Equine Veterinary Science published the findings.

Read the study here.


Finding Ways to Detect and Control Marek’s Disease

Highly virulent strains of Marek’s disease affect T lymphocyte function and splenocyte viability in commercial chickens, according to a new study.

Marek’s disease, a contagious viral disease, can cause paralysis of limbs, skin and muscle tumors, and impact many organs. The new research is the first description of the effect of highly virulent Marek’s disease on the lymphoid organs of 4- to 5-week-old commercial chickens. The findings emphasize some of the ways highly virulent strains of Marek’s disease are more immunosuppressive than other pathotypes.

Such information is critical to finding ways to detect and control the disease. Isabel Gimeno and Tobias Kaeser are among the authors of the study, published in Avian Pathology.

Read the study here.