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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Mar 1;216(5):718-21, 685.

Hepatoblastoma with erythrocytosis in a young female horse.

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Department of Clinical and Population Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St Paul 55108, USA.


A 2.5-year-old female Thoroughbred was examined because of lethargy, anorexia, and weight loss. Analysis of a CBC revealed erythrocytosis and an increase in PCV. Serum biochemical analysis revealed increases in activities of several hepatic enzymes. Ultrasonography revealed hepatomegaly and a heterogeneous appearance of the hepatic parenchyma. The horse did not improve despite supportive care, and it was euthanatized. Necropsy revealed numerous raised white to gray foci in the liver. Histologically, these foci consisted of neoplastic cells that resembled fetal hepatocytes, embryonal-type cells, and cells with features intermediate between those 2 cell types. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that hepatocytes stained strongly with anti-alpha-fetoprotein. On the basis of these results, hepatoblastoma was diagnosed. Diagnosis of hepatoblastoma is difficult, because it can appear histologically similar to other hepatic tumors, such as hepatocellular carcinomas. Definitive diagnosis requires histologic evaluation of tumor architecture and cell morphology. Immunohistochemical staining for alpha-fetoprotein in tumor cells may serve as a tumor marker but is not pathognomonic of hepatoblastoma. Paraneoplastic syndromes, such as erythrocytosis, can accompany hepatoblastoma. The prognosis for horses with hepatoblastoma is grave.

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