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Open Access Psychogenic Alopecia in Rhesus Macaques Presenting as Focally Extensive Alopecia of the Distal Limb

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Focally extensive alopecia affecting the distal limbs is a common clinical finding in rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) colonies and is both a regulatory and colony-health concern. We performed diagnostic examinations including physical exams, bloodwork, skin scrapes, surface cytology, and surface bacterial–fungal cultures on 17 rhesus macaques with this presentation of alopecia. Skin biopsies from alopecic skin obtained from each macaque were compared with those of normal skin from the same animal. Immunohistochemistry and metachromatic staining for inflammatory cells were performed to compare alopecic and normal skin. In addition, we compared these biopsies with those previously obtained from macaques with generalized alopecia and dermal inflammatory infiltrates consistent with cutaneous hypersensitivity disorders and with those from animals with normal haircoats. Bacterial and fungal cultures, skin scrapes, surface cytology, and bloodwork were unremarkable. Affected skin showed only mild histologic alteration, with rare evidence of trichomalacia and follicular loss. Numbers of mast cells and CD3+ lymphocytes did not differ between alopecic and normally haired skin from the same animal. The number of mast cells in alopecic skin from animals in the current cohort was significantly lower than that in skin of animals previously diagnosed with a cutaneous hypersensitivity disorder. Numbers of both mast cells and CD3+ lymphocytes in alopecic skin from the current cohort were similar to those from biopsies of animals with normal haircoats. Together, the clinical findings and pathology are consistent with a psychogenic origin for this pattern of alopecia in rhesus macaques.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, USA. 2: New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, USA 3: Charles River Laboratories, Wilmington, Massachusetts, USA 4: Long Green Animal Dermatology Center, Baldwin, Maryland, USA

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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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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