Veterinary microbiology2013; 167(1-2); 34-41; doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.06.017

Lawsonia intracellularis infection and proliferative enteropathy in foals.

Abstract: Equine proliferative enteropathy (EPE) is a disease of foals caused by the obligate intracellular organism Lawsonia intracellularis. This organism is unique in that it causes proliferation of infected enterocytes, resulting in thickening of the intestinal epithelium, most often the small intestine. This disease affects mainly weanling foals and causes fever, lethargy, peripheral edema, diarrhea, colic and weight loss. The diagnosis of EPE may be challenging and relies on the presence of hypoproteinemia, thickening of segments of the small intestinal wall observed on abdominal ultrasonography, positive serology and molecular detection of L. intracellularis in feces. The epidemiology and genetic basis for pathogenesis for this disease is beginning to be elucidated. Phenotypic traits, genomic features, and gene expression profiles during L. intracellularis infection in vitro and in vivo are presented. In addition, this article reviews the epidemiology, pathological and clinicopathological findings, diagnosis, and control of EPE.
Publication Date: 2013-07-06 PubMed ID: 23871678PubMed Central: PMC7126703DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.06.017Google Scholar: Lookup
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The research article explores Equine proliferative enteropathy (EPE), a disease in foals caused by the intracellular organism Lawsonia intracellularis, focusing on its symptoms, diagnosis, genetic basis for pathogenesis, and controls.

Overview of Equine Proliferative Enteropathy (EPE)

  • The disease predominantly affects weanling foals, causing symptoms such as fever, lethargy, peripheral edema, diarrhea, colic, and weight loss.
  • The unique characteristic of the Lawsonia intracellularis organism is that it leads to a multiplication of infected enterocytes which results in the thickening of the intestinal epithelium, specifically the small intestine.

Diagnosis of EPE

  • Diagnosing EPE proves to be challenging due to the complexities involved.
  • The diagnosis relies on several factors which include the presence of hypoproteinemia, thickening of segments of the small intestinal wall observed on abdominal ultrasonography, the molecular detection of L. intracellularis in feces, and positive serology.

Epidemiology and Genetic Basis for Pathogenesis

  • The research aims to enlighten some of the aspects regarding the epidemiology and the genetic basis for the pathogenesis of the disease.
  • The in-depth study entails the examination of phenotypic traits, genomic features, and gene expression profiles during L. intracellularis infections both in vitro and in vivo.

Control of EPE

  • The article also gives an overview of the possible controls of EPE.
  • It explores several pathological and clinicopathological findings.
  • Such measures could advance the understanding of the disease and possibly contribute to its control and prevention.

Cite This Article

Pusterla N, Gebhart C. (2013). Lawsonia intracellularis infection and proliferative enteropathy in foals. Vet Microbiol, 167(1-2), 34-41.


ISSN: 1873-2542
NlmUniqueID: 7705469
Country: Netherlands
Language: English
Volume: 167
Issue: 1-2
Pages: 34-41
PII: S0378-1135(13)00331-3

Researcher Affiliations

Pusterla, Nicola
  • Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Electronic address:
Gebhart, Connie

    MeSH Terms

    • Animals
    • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
    • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / diagnosis
    • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / drug therapy
    • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / epidemiology
    • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / pathology
    • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / veterinary
    • Horse Diseases / diagnosis
    • Horse Diseases / drug therapy
    • Horse Diseases / epidemiology
    • Horse Diseases / pathology
    • Horses
    • Intestinal Diseases / diagnosis
    • Intestinal Diseases / drug therapy
    • Intestinal Diseases / immunology
    • Intestinal Diseases / pathology
    • Intestinal Diseases / veterinary
    • Lawsonia Bacteria


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