Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Th17 cell-mediated immune response in a subpopulation of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy


Canine idiopathic epilepsy (IE) is a common neurological disease with severe impact on the owner´s and the dog's quality of life. A subpopulation of dogs with IE does not respond to antiseizure drugs (non-responder). Th17 cells (T helper cells) and their proinflammatory Interleukin-17 (IL-17) are part of the immune system and previous studies showed their involvement in the pathogenesis of several autoimmune diseases. Non-responder might have an abnormal immune response against structures of the central nervous system. To discover a new aetiology of canine IE and thereby optimising the therapy of intractable IE, this prospective study aimed to investigate Th17 cells and IL-17 in dogs with IE. The underlying hypothesis was that in some dogs with IE a Th17 cell-mediated immune response could be detectable.


57 dogs with IE and 10 healthy dogs (control group, C) were enrolled in the study. EDTA blood was taken to measure Th17 cells by flow cytometry. IL-17 was measured in 35 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and 33 serum samples using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). It was investigated whether there was a significant increase of stimulated Th17 cells in blood samples or of IL-17 in serum and CSF samples of dogs with IE in comparison to C. Correlations between the amount of Th17 cells/μL or IL-17 and different clinical parameters e.g. seizure frequency, seizure type, seizure severity or treatment response were evaluated. Additionally, Th17 cells/μL were randomly controlled of 17 dogs with IE and were examined for changes over time and in relation to treatment response.


Ten dogs with IE had strongly elevated stimulated Th17 cells/μL within the blood (>100 Th17 cells/μL). A slight positive correlation between stimulated Th17 cells/μL and seizure severity (p = 0.046; rSpear = 0.27) was proven in these dogs. In addition, 4/10 dogs with elevated Th17 levels experienced cluster seizures and status epilepticus in comparison to 9% of the dogs with non-elevated Th17 levels (<100 Th17 cells/μL). Dogs with IE had significantly higher IL-17 values in CSF and serum samples compared to C (p<0.001; p<0.002; respectively).


In single dogs with IE, strongly increased amounts of Th17 cells were detectable and dogs with elevated Th17 cells seemed to have a greater risk for experiencing a combination of cluster seizures and status epilepticus. Therefore, an underlying Th17-cell mediated immune response was suspected and hence anti-inflammatory drugs could be indicated in these single cases with intractable epilepsy.


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