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Comp Med. 2013 Jun;63(3):262-71.

Diagnosis of amyloidosis and differentiation from chronic, idiopathic enterocolitis in rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and pig-tailed (M. nemestrina) macaques.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Amyloidosis is a progressive and ultimately fatal disease in which amyloid, an insoluble fibrillar protein, is deposited inappropriately in multiple organs, eventually leading to organ dysfunction. Although this condition commonly affects macaques, there is currently no reliable method of early diagnosis. Changes in clinical pathology parameters have been associated with amyloidosis but occur in late stages of disease, are nonspecific, and resemble those seen in chronic, idiopathic enterocolitis. A review of animal records revealed that amyloidosis was almost always diagnosed postmortem, with prevalences of 15% and 25% in our rhesus and pig-tailed macaque colonies, respectively. As a noninvasive, high-throughput diagnostic approach to improve antemortem diagnosis of amyloidosis in macaques, we evaluated serum amyloid A (SAA), an acute-phase protein and the precursor to amyloid. Using necropsy records and ELISA analysis of banked serum, we found that SAA is significantly elevated in both rhesus and pig-tailed macaques with amyloid compared with those with chronic enterocolitis and healthy controls. At necropsy, 92% of rhesus and 83% of pig-tailed had amyloid deposition in either the intestines or liver. Minimally invasive biopsy techniques including endoscopy of the small intestine, mucosal biopsy of the colon, and ultrasound-guided trucut biopsy of the liver were used to differentiate macaques in our colonies with similar clinical presentations as either having amyloidosis or chronic, idiopathic enterocolitis. Our data suggest that SAA can serve as an effective noninvasive screening tool for amyloidosis and that minimally invasive biopsies can be used to confirm this diagnosis.

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