Peliosis Hepatis

Peliosis hepatis (PH) is a rare condition characterized by dilatation of hepatic sinusoids and the presence of blood-filled spaces within the liver. The disease occurs mainly in animals and humans exposed to pyrrolizidine alkaloids, azathioprine, medroxyprogesterone acetate, and corticosteroids and often has no signs.1 Affected animals become very weak and have distended abdomen due to extensive accumulation of fluid. Recent cases of peliosis hepatis in dogs and cats have been associted with Bartonella henselae, the agent of cat scratch disease, bacillary angiomatosis (tumors of blood vessels), peliosis hepatis, and other diseases in humans. Cats have been identified as reservoir hosts for this zoonotic pathogen, but there is evidence that dogs might also serve as a primary reservoir. Recent data from suggest that potentially viable Bartonella organisms may be transmitted to humans after a dog bite.5 In cats, B. henselae causes a long-lasting bacterial infection of the red blood cells and the organism is transmitted between cats by cat fleas. Transmission by other arthropods, such as ticks, has also been suggested.3 Dogs are excellent sentinels for human infections because dogs and humans infected with Bartonella species can develop similar disease signs and pathological lesions, including bacillary angiomatosis and peliosis hepatis.4

Bacillary angiomatosis
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


  1. Peliosis hepatis-like lesion in a pekingese dog. A case report. SapierzyƄski R.
  2. Peliosis hepatis in a dog infected with Bartonella henselae. Kitchell BE, Fan TM, Kordick D, Breitschwerdt EB, Wollenberg G, Lichtensteiger CA.
  3. Adhesion and host cell modulation: critical pathogenicity determinants of Bartonella henselae. Bettina Franz and Volkhard AJ Kempf
  4. Isolation of Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii Genotype II from a Boy with Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma and a Dog with Hemangiopericytoma Edward B. Breitschwerdt Ricardo G. Maggi, Mrudula Varanat, Keith E. Linder, and Guy Weinberg
  5. Bartonella DNA in Dog Saliva. Ashlee W. Duncan, Ricardo G. Maggi, and Edward B. Breitschwerdt
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs