Acidophil hepatitis

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Acute hepatitis associated with acidophil cell inclusion bodies

Acidophil hepatitis is a rare liver disease of dogs, thought to be caused by an unspecified virus which results in acute or chronic hepatitis.

Acidophil hepatitis has been reported in dogs in Great Britain, characterized by the histopathologic presence of acidophil cells. Chronic active hepatitis and sometimes hepatocellular carcinoma may occur. The cause is unknown, but a viral etiology is suspected. Differential diagnosis of other cause of chronic hepatitis include canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) and Leptospira interrogans var. grippotyphosa.

Clinical disease varies from acute hepatitis that is severe and fatal to chronic hepatitis and eventually cirrhosis. Intermittent fevers and spikes in ALT levels are noted in chronic disease. Prognosis is poor, and treatment consists of supportive care. Canine herpesvirus affects neonatal puppies, causing hepatic necrosis as well as other systemic changes, and is fatal[1].

Several noninfectious causes of canine chronic liver disease have been reported and classified in different etiologic categories, including copper associated, breed associated, drug associated, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency associated, and autoimmune chronic hepatitis. Most of these causes, including acidophil hepatitis, share common histologic features that include piecemeal necrosis (periportal necrosis or apoptosis) and progressive fibrosis that eventually leads to cirrhosis. Descriptive histomorphologic terms such as chronic active hepatitis, chronic progressive hepatitis, and lobular dissecting hepatitis have also been used to classify canine chronic hepatitis. However, except for the Bedlington terrier, in which an inherited genetic copper metabolism defect has been demonstrated, the majority of canine chronic liver diseases are idiopathic (unknown cause). Morphological features are not cause specific and infectious agent or noninfectious causes cannot be identified with routine diagnostic tools[2].


  1. Jarrett WF, O'Neil BW, Lindholm I. (1987) Persistent hepatitis and chronic fibrosis induced by canine acidophil cell hepatitis virus. Vet Rec 120(10):234-5
  2. Chouinard, M et al (1998) Use of polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry for detection of canine adenovirus type 1 in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded liver of dogs with chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. J Vet Diagn Invest 10:320-5