Detection of Intraspinal Spirocerca lupi in Canine Cerebrospinal Fluid by Polymerase Chain Reaction

M. Ruggeri, A. Rojas, O. Chai, H. Purzyc, E. Hanael, K. Rapoport, I. Barnoon, L. Konstantin, G. Baneth, M. H. Shamir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Aberrant migration of Spirocerca lupi into the spinal cord is an important cause of severe progressive neurological dysfunction in dogs. Although early diagnosis is essential to prevent deterioration, ante-mortem diagnosis of this condition remains challenging. The aim of this study was to evaluate the detection of the 18S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) S. lupi gene in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of presumptively-affected dogs using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Dogs with a non-compressive spinal cord lesion, pleocytosis with presence of eosinophils in the CSF and a characteristic clinical presentation were included. CSF samples from eight dogs were available for the study, of which seven were definitively diagnosed with intraspinal spirocercosis by PCR of either the CSF samples (6/7) or tissue samples obtained at necropsy examination (3/7), or both (2/7). Of these seven positive cases, only one dog had a negative CSF PCR, indicating a sensitivity of 86% for detecting nematode DNA in the CSF of infected dogs using this PCR protocol. The nematode DNA sequences obtained from the CSF of six dogs and the spinal cord tissue of three dogs were 98–100% identical to the publicly available sequences of S. lupi, confirming the diagnosis. These findings indicate that PCR targeting the 18S rDNA of S. lupi in CSF is useful for the ante-mortem diagnosis of canine intraspinal spirocercosis.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Spirocerca lupi
  • dog
  • intraspinal spirocercosis
  • polymerase chain reaction


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