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Anemia, splenomegaly, and increased osmotic fragility of erythrocytes in Abyssinian and Somali cats

Barbara Kohn1,2, Michael H. Goldschmidt MSc, BVMS, DACVP3, Ann E. Hohenhaus DVM, DACVIM4, and Urs Giger MS, DACVIM5
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 2 Present address is the Clinic for Small Animals, Free University of Berlin, Oertzenweg 19 b, D-14163 Berlin, Germany.
  • | 3 Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 4 Animal Medical Center, 510 E 62nd St, New York, NY 10021.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical and clinicopathologic features of a chronic intermittent severe hemolytic anemia characterized by erythrocyte osmotic fragility in Abyssinian and Somali cats.

Design—Case series.

Animals—13 Abyssinian and 5 Somali cats.

Procedures—History, pedigree information, and results of routine laboratory tests, special erythrocyte studies, and histologic evaluation of splenic and hepatic specimens were analyzed.

Results—Age at which clinical signs of anemia were first apparent ranged from 6 months to 5 years. Ten cats had splenomegaly. Most often, the PCV was between 15 and 25%, but it was as low as 5% at some times. The anemia was characterized by macrocytosis and mild to moderate reticulocytosis, but no poikilocytosis. Hyperglobulinemia, lymphocytosis, mild hyperbilirubinemia, and high hepatic enzyme activities were common findings. Results of Coombs tests and tests for infectious diseases were negative. The erythrocytic osmotic fragility was high in affected cats (mean osmotic fragility, 0.66 to 0.78%), compared with healthy cats (0.48 to 0.58). No specific membrane protein abnormality, erythrocyte enzyme deficiency, or hemoglobinopathy was identified. Histologic evaluation of splenic and hepatic specimens revealed extramedullary hematopoiesis and hemosiderosis. Four of the 5 Somali cats were closely related.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—On the basis of results of pedigree analyses, the apparent breed predilection, and the exclusion of other known causes of anemia in cats, we believe that the hemolytic anemia in these cats was likely a result of a novel hereditary erythrocyte defect. A genetic predisposition to immunemediated destruction of erythrocytes could not be ruled out. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1483–1491)