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Pathomorphology of the Intestinal Mucosa in Diarrheic Calves

En patomorfologisk undersøkelse av tarmmukosa hos kalver med diaré


The intestinal mucosa was examined in twelve 2–5-week-old calves with a spontaneous intestinal disorder, 8 with diarrhea and 4 convalescents. The calves were fed a defined milk replacer. Light microscopy including morphometry, showed villous atrophy and crypt elongation. Villous epithelial cells had decreased height, and epithelial cells of the posterior small intestine contained an increased amount of fat droplets. Accumulation of neutrophils in crypts was frequent. Scanning electron microscopy revealed blunt villi with increased numbers of necrotic cells in the extrusion zone at the tips of the villi. The convalescents had generally milder changes, particularly in the anterior small intestine. The probable etiological factors included a rotavirus and chlamydial infection, and it is concluded that these agents together with other possible noxious influences were responsible for the increased necrobiosis of apical senescent villous epithelial cells, resulting in villous atrophy and crypt hyperplasia.


Tarmmukosa ble undersøkt hos tolv 2–5 uker gamle kalver med en spontan tarmaffeksjon; 8 viste diaré og 4 var rekonvalescenter. Kalvene var fôret med en nærmere definert melkeerstatning. Lysmikroskopi og morfometri viste atrofi av villi og forlengelse av kryptene. Epiteleellene langs villi var lave og i bakre tynntarmsavsnitt inneholdt de mer fett enn normalt. Det forelå en forøket utvandring av nøytrofile granulocytter til lumen av kryptene. Skanning elektron mikroskopi viste butte villi med forøket antall nekrotiske celler i avstøtningssonen på toppen av villi. Rekonvalesentene hadde som regel mildere forandringer, særlig i fremre tarmavsnitt. Hos enkelte kalver ble det påvist rotavirus- og chlamydie-infeksjon, og det ble konkludert med at infeksiøse agens og muligens andre ikke definerte faktorer var årsak til det forøkede henfall av de eldste epitelceller på toppen av villi, noe som resulterte i atrofi av villi og hyperplasi av kryptene.


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Correspondence to Thor Landsverk.

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This study was supported by grants from the Agricultural Research Council of Norway.

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Landsverk, T. Pathomorphology of the Intestinal Mucosa in Diarrheic Calves. Acta Vet Scand 22, 435–448 (1981).

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  • diarrhea
  • intestinal pathomorphology
  • villous atrophy
  • epithelial extrusion
  • rotavirus
  • chlamydia
  • calves