Histopathology and immunohistochemistry of canine distemper virus-induced footpad hyperkeratosis (hard Pad disease) in dogs with natural canine distemper

Koutinas, A.F.; Baumgärtner, W.; Tontis, D.; Polizopoulou, Z.; Saridomichelakis, M.N.; Lekkas, S.

Veterinary Pathology 41(1): 2-9


ISSN/ISBN: 0300-9858
PMID: 14715962
DOI: 10.1354/vp.41-1-2
Accession: 004186345

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Hard pad disease represents an uncommon manifestation of canine distemper virus (CDV) infection with a still uncertain pathogenesis. To study the pathogenesis of this uncommon, virally induced cutaneous lesion, the footpads of 19 dogs with naturally occurring distemper were investigated for histologic changes and distribution pattern of CDV antigen. All dogs displayed clinical signs of distemper, which had lasted from 10 to 75 days. Overt digital hyperkeratosis was observed in 12 animals (group A), whereas the footpads of the remaining seven dogs appeared normal macroscopically (group B). Orthokeratotic hyperkeratosis (12/12; 100%), irregular acanthosis (11/12; 92%), thickened rete ridges (10/12; 83%), and mild mononuclear perivascular (10/12; 83%) and periadnexal (7/12; 58%) dermatitis were the most common findings in dogs with hard pad disease. Surprisingly, orthokeratotic hyperkeratosis (5/7; 71%), irregular acanthosis (5/7; 71%), and thickened rete ridges (4/7; 57%) were also seen in the dogs without clinical evidence of digital hyperkeratosis. CDV-specific inclusion bodies and ballooning degeneration were not observed in the footpad epidermis of the 19 dogs. Immunohistochemistry revealed that CDV antigen was most frequently found in the stratum spinosum and granulosum and in the epithelial cells of the eccrine sweat glands and only rarely in the basal layer. Fibroblasts, pericytes, endothelial cells, and hair follicles were also positive in some animals. Despite the obvious difference regarding the macroscopic picture, the microscopic changes were less prominent between the animal groups. The selective infection of keratinocytes in the stratum spinosum might be the key event for the development of hard pad disease in the dog.