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Vet Pathol. 2012 Mar;49(2):304-12. doi: 10.1177/0300985811410719. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Beta amyloid deposition and neurofibrillary tangles spontaneously occur in the brains of captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus).

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Laboratory of Veterinary Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University, 1-17-71, Fuchinobe, Chuo-ku, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, 252-5201, Japan.


Alzheimer disease is a dementing disorder characterized pathologically by Aβ deposition, neurofibrillary tangles, and neuronal loss. Although aged animals of many species spontaneously develop Aβ deposits, only 2 species (chimpanzee and wolverine) have been reported to develop Aβ deposits and neurofibrillary tangles in the same individual. Here, the authors demonstrate the spontaneous occurrence of Aβ deposits and neurofibrillary tangles in captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Among 22 cheetahs examined in this study, Aβ deposits were observed in 13. Immunostaining (AT8) revealed abnormal intracellular tau immunoreactivity in 10 of the cheetahs with Aβ deposits, and they were mainly distributed in the parahippocampal cortex and CA1 in a fashion similar to that in human patients with Alzheimer disease. Ultrastructurally, bundles of straight filaments filled the neuronal somata and axons, consistent with tangles. Interestingly, 2 of the cheetahs with the most severe abnormal tau immunoreactivity showed clinical cognitive dysfunction. The authors conclude that cheetahs spontaneously develop age-related neurodegenerative disease with pathologic changes similar to Alzheimer disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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