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Vet Pathol. 2006 Nov;43(6):896-903.

The immunohistochemical characterization of devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) in the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).

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  • 1Animal Health Laboratory, PO Box 46, Kings Meadows, 7249 Tasmania, Australia.


Immunohistochemical techniques were used to characterize the disfiguring and debilitating fatal neoplastic disease, devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), which has recently affected a significant proportion of the wild population of Tasmanian Devils (Sarcophilus harrisii). The diagnostic values of a number of immunohistochemical stains were employed to further characterize 50 representative cases. The neoplasms were negative for cytokeratin (0/48), epithelial membrane antigen (0/42), von Willebrand factor (vWF) (0/11), smooth muscle actin (SMA) (0/26), desmin (0/47), glial fibrillary acid protein (0/13), CD16 (0/13), CD57 (0/43), CD3 (0/18), and LSP1 (0/16). DFTD cells were positive for vimentin (50/50), S-100 (41/48), melan A (11/39), neuron specific enolase (35/35), chromogranin A (12/12) and synaptophysin (29/30). The cells were negative for amyloid (0/30) and stained negatively with Singh's silver (0/34) but were weakly argyrophilic (3/40) using Grimelius histochemical stain. These staining characteristics are consistent with cells of neuroectodermal origin.

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