Donkey pulmonary fibrosis (DPF) is a spontaneous syndrome of aged donkeys with a high prevalence (35%). No previous detailed characterization of DPF has been performed. We sought to determine the similarities between DPF and recognized patterns of human pulmonary fibrosis.
Whole lungs were collected from 32 aged donkeys at routine necropsy. Gross examination revealed pulmonary fibrosis in 19 donkeys (DPF cases), whereas 13 (control cases) had grossly normal lungs. Eighteen whole inflated ex vivo lungs (11 DPF cases, seven control cases) were imaged with high-resolution CT (HRCT) scan, whereas the remainder were sectioned and photographed. Tissue samples were collected from all lungs for histopathologic evaluation using a standardized protocol. HRCT images and histology sections underwent independent blinded review. Lung tissue was analyzed for herpes virus, fungal hyphae, mycobacteria, and dust content.
Ten of 19 DPF lungs were categorized as being consistent with pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE) according to previously defined histologic and imaging criteria. All 10 PPFE-like lungs had marked pleural and subpleural fibrosis, predominantly within the upper lung zone, with accompanying intraalveolar fibrosis and elastosis. Asinine herpesvirus was ubiquitously expressed within control and DPF lung tissue. No other etiologic agents were identified.
Many cases of DPF share key pathologic and imaging features with human PPFE, a rare interstitial pneumonia. Consequently, further study of DPF may help to elucidate the etiopathogenesis of human PPFE.