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To determine hepatic copper concentrations and zonal distribution in ferrets with and without hepatobiliary disease, validate rhodanine-based qualitative copper scoring and digital copper quantification in ferret hepatic samples, and ascertain whether clinical features predicted copper accumulation.


34 ferrets, including 7 with necroinflammatory disease, 5 with hepatocellular carcinoma, 13 with non-necroinflammatory disease, and 9 with no hepatobiliary disease.


Rhodanine-based digital copper quantification was validated by use of liver dually measured by atomic absorption spectroscopy and digital scanning (R 2 = 0.98). Clinical features and hepatic copper scores and concentrations (dry weight liver) were compared between groups. Zonal copper distribution was determined.


Hepatic copper concentration was strongly correlated with copper scores (ρ = 0.88). Ferrets with hepatobiliary disease were significantly older and had significantly higher serum alkaline phosphatase and γ-glutamyltransferase activities and creatinine concentrations. Centrilobular copper accumulated in 23 of 34 (64%) ferrets with (n = 15) and without (8) hepatobiliary disease. Median copper concentrations were not significantly different between ferrets with and without hepatobiliary disease but were significantly higher within neoplastic hepatic tissue in ferrets with hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatic copper concentrations exceeded feline (> 180 µg/g) and canine (> 400 µg/g) reference limits in 19 and 9 ferrets, respectively. Hepatic copper > 1,000 µg/g occurred in 5 ferrets with and 2 without hepatobiliary disease. Clinical features did not predict copper accumulation.


Rhodanine-based digital copper quantification and qualitative copper scoring discerned liver copper accumulation in ferrets. Ferrets with and without hepatobiliary disease displayed a propensity for centrilobular hepatic copper accumulation of uncertain clinical importance. Clinical and clinicopathologic features could not exclusively implicate pathologic copper accumulation.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


OBJECTIVE To characterize aminoaciduria and plasma amino acid concentrations in dogs with hepatocutaneous syndrome (HCS).

ANIMALS 20 client-owned dogs of various breeds and ages.

PROCEDURES HCS was definitively diagnosed on the basis of liver biopsy specimens (n = 12), gross and histologic appearance of skin lesions (4), and examination of skin and liver biopsy specimens (2) and presumptively diagnosed on the basis of cutaneous lesions with compatible clinicopathologic and hepatic ultrasonographic (honeycomb or Swiss cheese pattern) findings (2). Amino acid concentrations in heparinized plasma and urine (samples obtained within 8 hours of each other) were measured by use of ion exchange chromatography. Urine creatinine concentration was used to normalize urine amino acid concentrations. Plasma amino acid values were compared relative to mean reference values; urine-corrected amino acid values were compared relative to maximal reference values.

RESULTS All dogs had generalized hypoaminoacidemia, with numerous amino acid concentrations < 50% of mean reference values. The most consistent and severe abnormalities involved glutamine, proline, cysteine, and hydroxyproline, and all dogs had marked lysinuria. Urine amino acids exceeding maximum reference values (value > 1.0) included lysine, 1-methylhistidine, and proline.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Hypoaminoacidemia in dogs with HCS prominently involved amino acids associated with the urea cycle and synthesis of glutathione and collagen. Marked lysinuria and prolinuria implicated dysfunction of specific amino acid transporters and wasting of amino acids essential for collagen synthesis. These findings may provide a means for tailoring nutritional support and for facilitating HCS diagnosis.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research