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Toxicol Pathol. 2003 Sep-Oct;31(5):486-90.

Spontaneous acute tumor lysis syndrome in a DBA/1J mouse: a case report and review.

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  • 1Division of Pathology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA.


Spontaneous acute tumor lysis syndrome (ATLS) was diagnosed in a 10-month-old female DBA/1J sentinel mouse with leukemic lymphoma. The mouse was unable to maintain balance and died shortly after being observed rolling around in its cage. Disseminated neoplastic disease, including a large cranial mediastinal mass, enlarged lymph nodes and splenomegaly, was present at necropsy. Histopathologic examination revealed widespread massive necrosis of lymphoblastic tumor cells, and widely disseminated microemboli composed of nuclear and cytoplasmic cell debris. Although ATLS is widely recognized as an oncologic emergency in humans, acute lesions of ATLS have not been described. The mechanical obstruction of capillary beds by microemboli originating from disintegrating necrotic tumor cells was the likely cause of clinical signs and death in this mouse. We propose that similar microemboli may contribute to the pathogenesis of the acute renal failure and other clinical signs associated with ATLS in humans. Recognition of spontaneous ATLS in laboratory animals is especially important in studies that assess the efficacy and/or toxicity of anticancer treatments, where early deaths due to ATLS might mistakenly be attributed to a direct test article effect.

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