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Vet Pathol. 2006 Sep;43(5):740-50.

Age-related and non-age-related changes in 100 surveyed horse brains.

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  • 1Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Backweston Campus, Young's Cross, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland.


Brains from 100 horses, aged 2-25 years, were systematically examined by histopathology at 46 different neuroanatomical sites. The horses were sourced from a slaughterhouse (group A, n = 57), from a kennel that collected dead animals, and from 2 diagnostic laboratories (group B, n = 43). All horses from group A and 26 horses from group B were examined by a veterinarian in the period before death. None of the horses were known to exhibit clinical signs suggestive of neurologic disease. Among the main changes identified were vacuolation in the neuropil (n = 73), neurons (n = 32), white matter (n = 31), and focal perivascular lymphoid cell infiltrates (n = 35). Spheroids were frequently seen (n = 91), and 10 horses each had more than 10 spheroids in the cuneate or gracile nucleus. Statistically significant age-related changes noted included intraneuronal (n = 97) and glial or extracellular lipofuscin deposition (n = 41), hemosiderin deposition around blood vessels (n = 60), and calcium depositions (n = 24). One horse had low-grade nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis; Alzheimer type II cells were detected in the brains of 2 horses. Hyalinized vessel walls in the cerebellum were observed in 1 horse. It was concluded that some histopathologic changes are a frequent feature in equine brains, which has implications for the pathologists involved in equine neurology and disease surveillance.

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