Plasma cell chondritis

Plasma cell chondritis is rarely reported in the literature but believed to be a relatively common self-resolving disease[1].

It is a disease characterised by an often symmetrical, painful swelling of the pinnae, followed by reduction in size and healing. In the initial phase, systemic signs (pyrexia, etc) are seen. Some of these cases have been found to be FeLV- or FIV-positive, but other causes such as an acute immune-mediated response to iatrogenic agents cannot be ruled out[2][3]. Inflammation occurs primarily within the cartilage tissue of the ears rather than the skin. The inflammation results in lysosomal enzyme release from chondrocytes, damaging the integrity of the cartilage matrix, and causing oedema and deformity to the tissue. The cartilage also reacts by growing new tissue, often deformed.



Diagnosis is based on clinical appearance of deformed, tender cartilage (which may affect ears, but also nasal turbinates). The disease appears to be both relapsing and multicentric. Biochemistry profiles often reveal hypergammaglobulinemia. Histopathology initially reveals an almost pure plasmacytic infiltration with Russell bodies, followed later by a mixed cellular infiltrate of lymphocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils.

In humans, where this disease also has been reported, death can occur if there is damage to respiratory tract, from cartilaginous collapse, and valvular chondritis/vasculitis[4].



In cats which have been affected by this disease, the inflammatory process appears unresponsive to corticosteroid therapy[5]. Some cases are self-limiting and it is thus prudent to minimise medical intervention unless clinical signs deteriorate.



  1. ↑ Guaguere, E & Prelaud, P (2000) A practical guide to feline dermatology. Merial, France
  2. ↑ Bunge, MM et al (1992) Relapsing polychondritis in a cat. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 28:203-206
  3. ↑ Guaguere, E (1992) Prat Med Chir Anim Comp 27:557-563
  4. ↑ Hemry, DA et al (1972) Relapsing polychondritis, a ‘floppy’ mitral valve and migratory polytendonitis. Ann Int Med 77:576-580
  5. ↑ Lemmens, P & de Schrauwen, E (1993) Feline relapsing polychondritis: a case report. Vlaams Diergenseeskd Tijdschr 62:183-185

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