OBJECTIVE To establish reference limits for hepatic bile duct-to-arteriole ratio (BD:A) and bile duct-to-portal tract ratio (BD:PT) in healthy cats and assess whether these parameters could be used to support a diagnosis of biliary ductopenia in cats.
SAMPLE Hepatic biopsy samples from healthy cats (n = 20) and cats with ductopenia (2).
PROCEDURES Hepatic biopsy samples from healthy cats were used to count the number of bile ducts and hepatic arterioles in 20 portal tracts for each cat. Mean BD:A and mean BD:PT for each cat were calculated, and these values were used to determine reference limits for mean BD:A and mean BD:PT. Results of histologic evaluation, including immunohistochemical staining in some instances, were compared for healthy cats versus cats with ductopenia.
RESULTS Of the 400 portal tracts from healthy cats, 382 (95.5%) and 396 (99.0%) had BD:A and BD:PT, respectively, ≥ 1.0, with less variability in BD:A. Mean BD:A and BD:PT were markedly lower in both cats with ductopenia, compared with values for healthy cats. However, only mean BD:A for cats with ductopenia was below the reference limit of 0.59.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that systematic evaluation of BD:A, with a lower reference limit of 0.59 to define biliary ductopenia in cats, may be a discrete and easily applied morphometric tool to enhance detection of ductopenia in cats. However, application of this ratio required evaluation of ≥ 20 portal tracts with cross-sectioned portal elements to determine a mean BD:A value.