The study objectives were: to visualise the endothelial glycocalyx for the first time in cats; to validate assays to quantify serum glycocalyx breakdown products (sulphated glycosaminoglycans [sGAG] and hyaluronan [HA]) in cats; and to compare serum glycocalyx breakdown products in healthy cats with those with hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Uterine artery samples from healthy cats undergoing routine neutering were perfused with 0.1% Alcian blue/2.5% glutaraldehyde/0.1M sodium cacodylate and fixed with 2.5% glutaraldehyde/0.1M sodium cacodylate, then visualised using transmission electron microscopy. Validation of an Alcian blue assay and commercially available ELISA were performed for measurement of sGAG and HA, respectively, in cat sera. Serum HA was measured in cats with hyperthyroidism (n=9), CKD (n=6) and in healthy cats (n=9) and compared across groups by Kruskal-Wallis testing.
Median (range) glycocalyx depth in uterine artery was 64.44 (37.28–119.34)nm. Non-specific binding in serum, particularly to albumin, prevented reliable measurement of sGAG with the Alcian blue assay. The HA ELISA was reliable. Median (range) HA in cats with hyperthyroidism, CKD and in healthy cats was 118.40 (50.11-636.88)ng/ul, 155.06 (41.17-517.00)ng/ul and 184.74 (62.92-532.36)ng/ul, respectively, with no significant difference across groups (P=0.778).
Definitive glycocalyx visualisation will facilitate its future study ex vivo. The HA ELISA enabled measurement of serum HA as a glycocalyx breakdown product in cats but HA was not significantly different across healthy cats and those with hyperthyroidism or CKD. However, this study was likely underpowered and larger studies are needed to evaluate glycocalyx breakdown in these diseases.


The samples from cats with hyperthyroidism, CKD and healthy cats were collected as part of a study funded by PetSavers. Sara Hillyer received the MSD student research bursary for her research studies into the glycocalyx
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Heart Institute


  • Glycocalyx
  • feline
  • hyperthyroidism
  • chronic kidney disease


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