Acute interstitial pneumonia and the biology of 3-methylindole in feedlot cattle

Anim Health Res Rev. 2022 Jun;23(1):72-81. doi: 10.1017/S1466252322000020.


Acute interstitial pneumonia (AIP) of cattle has been recognized for many decades. While the pathogenesis and risk factors for this condition in pastured cattle are relatively well characterized, there remains a poor understanding of the disease as it occurs in intensively fed cattle such as in beef feedlots. Specifically, in pastured cattle, AIP results from excessive ruminal production of the pneumotoxicant 3-methylindole (3-MI). In feedlot cattle, the evidence to substantiate the role of 3-MI is comparatively deficient and further investigations into the cause, pathogenesis, and control are sorely needed. This review highlights our current understanding of AIP with a focus on the disease as it occurs in feedlot cattle. Additionally, it illustrates the need for further work in understanding the specific animal factors (e.g. the ruminal microbiome, and the role of concurrent diseases), management factors (e.g. animal stocking and vaccination protocols), and dietary factors (e.g. dietary supplements) that may impact the development of AIP and which are relatively unique to the feedlot setting. All stakeholders in the beef industry stand to benefit from a greater understanding of what remains a pressing yet poorly understood issue in beef production.

Keywords: 3-Methylindole; acute interstitial pneumonia; cattle; feedlot.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Biology
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases* / pathology
  • Hamman-Rich Syndrome* / veterinary
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / complications
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / pathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / veterinary
  • Skatole


  • Skatole