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Open Access Dermal Melanocytosis in Japanese Monkeys (Macaca fuscata)

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The skin of Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata) shows diffuse discolorations resembling human dermal melanocytosis. Very few laboratory animals have melanocytes in the dermis. The purpose of this study was to clarify the dermatologic characteristics of Japanese monkeys in terms of gross appearance, skin color, and histopathologic findings. A colorimeter was used to record the skin colors of pigmented and nonpigmented sites. Tissue specimens obtained from both types of sites were examined histopathologically. All animals examined had pigmented sites on their bodies, and the discolorations extended over 25% to 33% of the body surface. The colorimeter could detect differences in skin color due to dermal melanocytosis. All parameters of the colorimetric systems used (Yxy, L*a*b*, and L*C*h* systems) demonstrated significant differences between pigmented and nonpigmented sites. In pigmented sites, the epidermis lacked melanocytes, but the dermis had numerous melanocytes with abundant melanin. Activated melanocytes with well-developed dendrites were distributed throughout the upper part of the dermal layer. Melanocytes were not arranged in clusters, and elastic and collagen fibers in the dermis showed no histological abnormalities. Nonpigmented sites lacked melanin granules in both the epidermis and dermis. This study revealed that gross dermal melanocytosis correlated well with colorimetric results and histopathologic findings. These findings suggest that the pigmentation of Japanese monkeys is equivalent to dermal melanocytosis in humans, to the end that Japanese monkeys may be a useful animal model for investigating dermal melanogenesis.

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Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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