Interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma mRNA expression in canine anal furunculosis lesions and the effect of ciclosporin therapy

Michael S Tivers, Brian Catchpole, Susan P Gregory, Arthur K House

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


German Shepherd Dogs have an increased incidence of anal furunculosis (AF), which is a disease characterised by inflammation and ulceration of the perianal tissues. Ciclosporin, an immunosuppressive drug, has been successfully used to treat AF, suggesting that the pathogenesis of disease is likely to have an immune-mediated component. Previous research has shown that the cytokine mRNA profile in AF lesions is consistent with T cell-mediated inflammation. The aims of the current study were to quantify IL-2 and IFNgamma mRNA expression in AF biopsies taken before and after treatment with ciclosporin and to compare cytokine expression with lesion severity. Twenty-two dogs with AF were recruited into the study and lesional biopsies were taken prior to ciclosporin therapy. Lesion severity was graded using a visual analogue scale. All dogs were evaluated after 4 weeks of ciclosporin therapy and, in 10 dogs with persistent disease, residual lesions were resected. RNA was extracted from AF-lesional tissue and control perianal tissue samples (n=10), which was used as the template for RT-PCR. Analysis of IL-2 and IFNgamma mRNA expression was performed using real-time PCR. IL-2 and IFNgamma mRNA was consistently detected in pre-treatment AF biopsies and, when quantified, this was significantly increased compared to control tissue (P<0.05). However, no correlation was seen between lesion severity and pre-treatment cytokine mRNA expression. In the ten paired pre- and post-treatment samples, IL-2 mRNA expression was significantly reduced in residual disease tissue following ciclosporin therapy (P=0.013). Treatment with ciclosporin seemed to result in decreased expression of IFNgamma mRNA in AF lesions but this was not statistically significant. In six of the 10 dogs with persistent disease, T cell cytokine mRNA could still be detected in the tissues, suggesting that there was inadequate immunosuppression. The absence of a correlation between T cell cytokine expression and the severity of disease suggests that tissue destruction observed in AF might be a consequence of other inflammatory mediators or downstream effects of T cell activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-6
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2008


  • Animals
  • Anus Diseases
  • Biopsy
  • Cyclosporine
  • Dog Diseases
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Furunculosis
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Interleukin-2
  • Male
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


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