Effect of time and autologous serum addition on the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid in horses

J Vet Intern Med. 2023 Jan 24. doi: 10.1111/jvim.16637. Online ahead of print.


Background: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is highly labile and delayed processing might alter results of analysis.

Hypothesis/objectives: To determine the effects of time and addition of autologous serum on cytological evaluation of CSF.

Animals: Ten client-owned adult horses requiring euthanasia.

Methods: Prospective study. Serum and CSF were collected from each horse before and within 10 minutes after euthanasia. CSF samples were divided into 15 aliquots (2 mL each); 1 aliquot was submitted for routine CSF analysis within 60 minutes of collection. Four drops of autologous serum were added to 7 of the aliquots, and stored at 4°C (serum group); the remaining 7 samples were stored unaltered at 4°C (control group). Total nucleated cell count (TNCC) and cell morphology score were done at T4, T8, T12, T24, T48, T72, and T96 hours after collection. Protein concentration was measured in the control group at T0 and T96 hours.

Results: The cell morphology scores were significantly different in the control group at T48 (median 2, range 0-4), T72 (2, 0-4), and T96 (3, 0-4) in comparison to T0 (1). No change was observed in the serum group. TNCC remained stable over time in both groups. No statistically significant difference in CSF protein concentration was found between T0 and T96.

Conclusions and clinical importance: The addition of autologous serum to an aliquot of CSF sample before shipping improves the preservation of cell morphology up to 96 hours after collection.

Keywords: CSF; autologous serum; cerebro; horse; spinal fluid.