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Characterization and classification of psittacine atherosclerotic lesions by histopathology, digital image analysis, transmission and scanning electron microscopy

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Atherosclerosis is a degenerative and inflammatory vascular disease characterized in mammals and birds by the accumulation of inflammatory cells, lipids, calcium, and formation of large fibrofatty lesions within the intima of arteries resulting in the disorganization of the arterial wall and stenosis of the lumen. Despite the high incidence of atherosclerosis in parrots and the high number of case reports, there are few pathologic investigations and the ultrastructural study of the lesions has not been documented. Sixty-three major arteries were collected from 24 psittacine birds of 11 species during routine post-mortem examinations. Samples from the major arteries were fixed in 2% paraformaldehyde and 1.25% glutaraldehyde, and processed for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Additional samples were fixed in 10% formalin and embedded in paraffin for histological examination. Additional histochemical stains for calcium, elastic fibres, and lipid were performed. Toluidine blue-stained 0.5 µm-thick resin sections were also obtained. Digital image analysis was performed to provide objective quantitative information on the different lesions. The histopathology and ultrastructure of psittacine atherosclerosis were found to be similar to other avian and mammalian species. Seven lesion types could be described, which were similar to the human classification system. Digital image analysis, TEM, and SEM helped to further describe the lesions and refine the classification system. TEM findings were similar to other avian and mammalian species with the notable presence of macrophage-derived and smooth muscle cell-derived foam cells and extracellular lipid. SEM revealed various stages of endothelial surface defects and, occasionally, adherent blood cells.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, 2: Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine,Louisiana State University, Skip Bertman DriveBaton RougeLA70803, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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