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To determine incidence of neoplastic disease in ferrets.


Retrospective study.


574 ferrets with neoplastic disease.


Medical records from the Veterinary Medical Data Base at Purdue University from 1968 to May 1997 were reviewed to identify ferrets with neoplastic disease. Data on tumor type, organ or system affected, sex, age, geographic location of affected ferrets, participating institution, and year of diagnosis were retrieved.


639 tumors of various types were diagnosed in 574 of 4,774 (12%) ferrets in the database. Sixty-one ferrets had multiple tumor types. Primary tumors were found in every system; endocrine (254; 39.7%). hemolymphatic (97; 15.2 %). integumentary (83; 12.9%). and digestive (54; 8.4%) systems were most commonly affected. The most common tumor types were pancreatic islet cell (139; 21.7%) and adrenocortical cell (107; 16.7%) tumors and lymphoma (76; 11.9%). Most (94.2%) pancreatic islet cell tumors were functional. Age of affected ferrets ranged from less than 1 month to more than 15 years old. Tumor incidence was highest in ferrets between 4 and 7 years old. A sex predilection was not found, although tumors were found more commonly in spayed females and castrated males than in sexually intact females and males, respectively. Number of tumors diagnosed increased as the number of ferrets examined increased. Neoplastic disease accounted for an increasingly greater percentage of diseases diagnosed in ferrets during the study period.

Clinical Implications

Ferrets have an incidence and spectrum of neoplastic disease similar to other mammalian species. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212: 1402–1406)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To clone and characterize the cDNA encoding feline interleukin-5 (IL-5) cDNA and the 170 basepairs (bp) of the 5' flanking region of the feline IL-5 gene.

Sample Population

Blood mononuclear cells from a healthy cat.


Cells were cultured, stimulated for 48 hours with concanavalin A, and harvested for RNA and DNA isolation. Recovered RNA was used in northern blot and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses. Resulting cDNA was used for rapid amplification of 3' cDNA ends, dideoxy chain termination sequencing, and primer extension analysis.


Full length cDNA was 838 bp, including a 402-bp open reading frame that encoded a precursor protein of 134 amino acids including a putative peptide signal of 19 residues. Homologies of the nucleotide and derived protein sequences between feline and human IL-5 cDNA were 72 and 71%, respectively. There also was homology between the human and predicted feline cytokines at amino acid positions that are critical for IL-5 receptor binding and signal transduction. The 5' flanking region of the feline gene was homologous to corresponding regions of the human (88%) and murine (72%) genes, and included putative transcriptional regulatory elements.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Identification of feline IL-5 cDNA is an important step toward a detailed, fully comprehensive characterization of the mechanisms that may be operative in the pathogenesis of eosinophilic disorders in cats. The striking homology between the human and feline IL-5 genes suggests that cats can be used as animal models for human diseases characterized by eosinophil infiltration of tissues. (Am J Vet Res 1998;59:1263–1269)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


We assessed the effect of serotonergic inhibition by cyproheptadine on the responsiveness of tracheal smooth muscle (tsm) strips and epithelium-intact third-generation bronchial rings from immune-sensitized (Ascaris suum) cats after exposure to antigen. Cats were sensitized by im administration of antigen and adjuvant twice over a 4-week period. Sensitization was confirmed in vivo by skin testing with antigen and by physiologic airway responses after exposure to nebulized antigen. Tissues were tethered isometrically to force transducers and were actively equilibrated by exposures to KCl-substituted perfusate. Maximal response after exposure to antigen (expressed as percentage of maximal contraction of each tissue to 63 mM KCl (%KCl) was 169 ± 18% KCl for sensitized tsm and 43 ± 18% KCl for sensitized tsm pretreated with cyproheptadine (P < 0.001). Similarly, maximal response to antigen was 81 ± 27% KCl for sensitized bronchial rings, compared with 16 ± 14% KCl for sensitized bronchial rings pretreated with cyproheptadine (P = 0.05 vs control). Blockade of leukotriene synthesis by 10−6 to 10−4 M A-64077, a selective 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor, had no significant effect on peak response for either tsm (193 ± 13% KCl vs 169 ± 18% KCl for sensitized untreated tsm) or bronchial rings (79 ± 20% KCl vs 81 ± 27% KCl for sensitized untreated bronchial rings). Release of serotonin from airway tissues was confirmed by the presence of serotonin in the perfusate of 8 sensitized tsm preparations after, but not before, antigen challenge. Our data indicate that airways from immune-sensitized cats have typical immediate-type hypersensitivity responses when exposed to antigen and that these responses are inhibited by serotonin-receptor blockade, but not by blockade of 5-lipoxygenase. These data implicate serotonin as an important mediator in the immediate-type hypersensitivity reaction in the immune-sensitized airways of cats and suggest a potential role for serotonin antagonists in the clinical treatment of asthma in this species.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Twenty-four healthy cats underwent bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage to determine the normal cytologic environment of the lower respiratory tract of cats. Initial screening to ensure the health of the study population included complete histories, physical examinations, thoracic radiography, cbc, serologic tests for feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, and occult heartworm, and sugar and Baermann fecal flotation. In 18 cats, protected catheter brush samples of airway secretions from the lavaged lung segment were taken for culture of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and mycoplasma. Bronchial lavage fluid (5 sequential 10-ml aliquots of normal saline solution) was pooled and filtered with cotton gauze. The unspun sample was used for determination of a total nucleated cell count. Lavage fluid was cytocentrifuged and 500 cells/slide were scored for determination of the cellular differential. Activity of lactate dehydrogenase and concentrations of total protein and IgG within the supernatant were measured, and assays were performed to detect the presence of IgA and IgM. Complete histologic evaluation of the lavaged lung of each of 6 random-source cats was performed after differential cell counting revealed 18% eosinophils within bronchoalveolar lavage fluid recovered from this group.

Alveolar macrophages were the predominant cells encountered; however, a quarter of all cells recovered were eosinophils. A significant relationship was not found between the abundance of eosinophils in the lavage fluid, and either isolation of aerobic bacteria, high total nucleated cell counts, total protein concentrations, or activity of lactate dehydrogenase. Histologic evaluation of the lungs of 5 of 6 random-source cats revealed normal lungs in 2 cats, and minimal abnormal change in 3 others. Evaluation of the lungs from 1 random source cat revealed acute, mild eosinophilic bronchiolitis. We conclude that large numbers of eosinophils may be retrieved from the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of healthy cats.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research