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Open Access Cystic Renal Disease in the Domestic Ferret

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Cystic renal diseases in domestic ferrets are a common anecdotal finding but have received scant systematic assessment. We performed a 17-y, case-control retrospective analysis of the medical records of 97 ferrets housed at our institution between 1987 and 2004, to determine the prevalence and morphotypes of cystic renal diseases in this species. Histologic sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin, Masson trichrome, or periodic acid–Schiff were evaluated by a comparative pathologist, and statistical analysis of hematologic and serum chemistry values was correlated with morphologic diagnosis. Of the 97 available records, 43 were eliminated due to lack of accompanying tissues. Of the 54 remaining cases, 37 (69% prevalence) had documented renal cysts, and 14 of the 54 ferrets (26%) had primary polycystic disease consisting of either polycystic kidney disease affecting renal tubules or, more commonly, glomerulocystic kidney disease. Secondary polycystic lesions were identified in 11 ferrets (20%), and 12 ferrets (22%) exhibited focal or isolated tubular cysts only as an incidental necropsy finding. Ferrets with secondary renal cysts associated with other developmental anomalies, mesangial glomerulopathy, or end-stage kidney disease had hyperphosphatemia and elevated BUN in comparison with those with primary cystic disease and elevated BUN compared with those without renal lesions. Although reflecting institutional bias, these results implicate primary and secondary cystic renal diseases as highly prevalent and underreported in the domestic ferret. In addition to the clinical implications for ferrets as research subjects and pets, these findings suggest a potential value for ferrets as a model of human cystic renal diseases.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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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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