Lipoprotein profile of pleural and peritoneal transudates in dogs and cats

J Vet Intern Med. 2022 Mar;36(2):464-472. doi: 10.1111/jvim.16369. Epub 2022 Feb 15.


Background: Current diagnostic evaluation of transudative effusions rarely aids in identifying an underlying etiology. Lipoproteins in the fluid might reflect the site or nature of vessel involvement.

Objectives: Improve the classification and diagnostic utility of pleural and peritoneal transudates in dogs and cats by investigating lipoprotein patterns in effusions. Compare these patterns with other peritonaeal and pleural fluid variables and underlying diseases.

Animals: Samples of transudates and serum from 18 cats and 37 dogs with transudative effusion (total nucleated cell count [TNCC] <5000 cells/μL) were analyzed.

Methods: Lipoprotein fractions, triglyceride, and cholesterol (CHO) concentrations were prospectively determined in paired fluid and serum samples. Standard fluid measurements were retrospectively collected.

Results: Two distinct fluid lipoprotein patterns were noted. Fluids rich in VLDL+IDL were associated with chronic kidney disease, acquired portosystemic shunts or protein-losing enteropathy (group I). Fluids rich in denser lipoproteins were associated with underlying heart disease, caudal vena cava syndrome or intracavitary neoplasia (group II). Group I and group II also had significant differences between fluid concentrations of CHO (x̄ = 8 vs 110 mg/dL) and TP (x̄ = 0.6 vs 3.8 g/dL), respectively. Five peritoneal transudates were triglyceride-rich (>100 mg/dL) and associated with pancreatitis.

Conclusions and clinical importance: Protein-poor (TP <1.5 g/dL) and protein-rich (TP >2.5 g/dL) transudates were associated with distinct lipoprotein patterns and specific groups of disease. Effusions secondary to pancreatitis might be transudative and rich in triglycerides.

Keywords: cavitary effusion; cholesterol; pancreatitis; triglycerides.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Dogs
  • Exudates and Transudates
  • Lipoproteins
  • Pleural Effusion* / veterinary
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Lipoproteins