• Open Access

Broadly Reactive Polymerase Chain Reaction for Pathogen Detection in Canine Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis and Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis


  • Samples were collected from the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Viral polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays were performed at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine (UGA-CVM) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA. Viral culture, Mycoplasma genus-specific PCR, and immunohistochemistry were performed at the UGA-CVM. Sequence-independent, single primer amplification (SISPA) was performed at the CDC, Atlanta, GA. Bacterial culture was performed at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Preliminary results of this study were presented at the 2009 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Convention, Montréal, Québec, Canada

Corresponding author: Scott J. Schatzberg, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Neurology), Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM 87505; e-mail: scott.schatzberg@gmail.com.



Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis (GME) and necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME) are common inflammatory conditions of the central nervous system of dogs. Infectious pathogens, particularly viruses, are suspected to contribute to the etiopathogenesis of GME and NME.


Broadly reactive PCR might aid in the identification of infectious agents in GME and NME.


Sixty-eight client-owned dogs evaluated by necropsy at 1 university referral hospital.


A mixed prospective/retrospective case-control study was performed. Brain tissue prospectively collected at necropsy from GME, NME, and control cases was evaluated by broadly reactive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for adenoviruses, bunyaviruses, coronaviruses, enteroviruses, flaviviruses, herpesviruses, paramyxoviruses, and parechoviruses. In addition, these tissues were retrospectively evaluated for the presence of mycoplasmas by PCR, culture, and immunohistochemistry (IHC).


Brain tissue was collected from 11 GME and 27 NME cases and 30 controls. Viral nucleic acids were not identified in the 6 GME cases, 25 NME cases, and 2 controls evaluated by viral PCR. Mycoplasma canis was identified by Mycoplasma genus PCR in 1/5 GME and 4/25 NME cases and subsequently was cultured from 4/5 GME and 4/8 NME cases as well as 2/9 controls. The IHC did not detect Mcanis in any of the 11 GME and 27 NME cases or 14 controls evaluated with strain PG14 polyclonal antiserum.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

The negative results suggest that viral pathogens are not common in the brain tissue of dogs with GME and NME. Further investigation is warranted to determine the importance of Mcanis in cases of GME and NME.