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Vet Pathol. 2009 Mar;46(2):288-98. doi: 10.1354/vp.46-2-288.

Malignant round cell neoplasia in llamas and alpacas.

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  • 1College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Magruder Hall 142, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


Malignant round cell neoplasia was identified in 12 llamas and 12 alpacas aged 0-23 years. Mean age of affected alpacas (3.1 years) was significantly less than that of affected llamas (8.0 years). Tumor cell morphology varied from large and often pleomorphic (11 tumors) to small and often homogeneous (13 tumors). Neoplastic lesions were multicentric in 12 cases. Other sites were gastric (5 cases), intra-abdominal (perirenal; 4 cases), intrathoracic (2 cases), and cervical (1 case). Immunohistochemistry with antibodies to CD79alpha, BLA36, and CD3 identified B-cell lymphoma (12 cases) and T-cell lymphoma (6 cases). Six tumors did not express any lymphoid marker and were further immunostained for neuron-specific enolase (NSE), synaptophysin, S-100, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and chromogranin A. All 6 of these tumors were negative for GFAP and chromogranin A but expressed 1 or more of the neural markers NSE, synaptophysin, and S-100 and were classified as primitive malignant round cell tumors (PMRCT). Tumor types could not be distinguished on the basis of animal age, gross pathologic appearance, tumor morphology, or tumor location. All animals with lymphoma and 5 with PMRCT died or were euthanatized. One alpaca with a focal cervical PMRCT lived for at least 20 months after diagnosis. Results of this study indicate that malignant round cell tumors in llamas and alpacas are a heterogeneous group that cannot be distinguished on the basis of signalment, postmortem findings, or routine light microscopic findings. Immunohistochemistry is a valuable diagnostic procedure when evaluating malignant round cell neoplasia in llamas and alpacas.

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