Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Dr. David W. Horohov


Lawsonia intracellularis and the disease it causes in horses, equine proliferative enteropathy (EPE), is an emerging pathogen of increasing importance to the horse industry from both an economic and welfare standpoint. Long recognized as an economically important disease of swine, the hallmark of EPE is a protein-losing enteropathy, where affected horses suffer weight loss and some ultimately succumb to the disease despite aggressive treatment. There are currently no known EPE preventative measures and the epidemiology of the disease remains poorly defined. While EPE is a sporadic disease affecting less than 25% of exposed horses, some farms experience clinical cases year after year. Further, weanlings are uniquely susceptible to this disease, although no conclusive reason for this predisposition has been identified. The overall hypothesis is that the host immune response plays a significant role in the susceptibility of weanlings to L. intracellularis infection and the occurrence of clinical equine proliferative enteropathy. To test this hypothesis, four individual hypotheses were proposed: (H1) previous farm history of EPE does not have an effect on weanling seroprevalence, (H2) passively-acquired antibodies do not have an effect on susceptibility to L. intracellularis and the occurrence of EPE, (H3) the serological status of mares can be used to determine the role they play in the epidemiology of EPE on endemic farms, and (H4) L. intracellularis-specific IFN-g expression is not associated with increased resistance to EPE.