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Proliferative enteropathy (PE; ileitis) is a common intestinal disease affecting susceptible pigs raised under various management systems around the world. Major developments in the understanding of PE and its causative agent, Lawsonia intracellularis, have occurred that have led to advances in the detection of this disease and methods to control and prevent it. Diagnostic tools that have improved overall detection and early onset of PE in pigs include various serological and molecular-based assays. Histological tests such as immunohistochemistry continue to be the gold standard in confirming Lawsonia-specific lesions in pigs post mortem. Despite extreme difficulties in isolating L. intracellularis, innovations in the cultivation and the development of pure culture challenge models, have opened doors to better characterization of the pathogenesis of PE through in vivo and in vitro L. intracellularis–host interactions. Advancements in molecular research such as the genetic sequencing of the entire Lawsonia genome have provided ways to identify various immunogens, metabolic pathways and methods for understanding the epidemiology of this organism. The determinations of immunological responsiveness in pigs to virulent and attenuated isolates of L. intracellularis and identification of various immunogens have led to progress in vaccine development.
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