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Open Access Chronic Anemia and Effects of Iron Supplementation in a Research Colony of Adult Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta)

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A cohort of rhesus macaques used in neuroscience research was found at routine examinations to have chronic anemia (spun Hct less than 30%). Four anemic (Hct, 24.8% ± 3.4%) and 10 control (39.6% ± 2.9%) macaques were assessed to characterize the anemia and determine probable cause(s); some animals in both groups had cephalic implants. Diagnostic tests included CBC, bone marrow evaluations, iron panels, and serum erythropoietin and hepcidin concentrations. Serum iron and ferritin were 15.8 ± 11.1 μg/dL and 103.8 ± 53.1 ng/mL, respectively, for the anemic group compared with 109.8 ± 23.8 μL/dL and 88.5 ± 41.9 ng/mL, respectively, for the control group. Erythropoietin levels were 16.2 to over 100 mU/mL for the anemic macaques compared with 0 to 1.3 mU/mL for the control group. Hepcidin results were similar in both groups. Because the findings of low iron, high erythropoietin, and normal hepcidin in the anemic macaques supported iron-deficiency anemia or anemia of chronic disease combined with iron-deficiency anemia, a regimen of 4 doses of iron dextran was provided. In treated macaques, Hct rose to 36.3% ± 6.8%, serum iron levels increased to 94.0 ± 41.9 μg/dL, and erythropoietin levels fell to 0.15 to 0.55 mU/mL. Maintenance of normal Hct was variable between macaques and reflected individual ongoing clinical events.

Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: 1: Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA 2: IDEXX Reference Laboratories, North Grafton, Massachusetts, USA 3: Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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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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