JPC SYSTEMIC PATHOLOGY
Signalment (JPC #2209517): Dog
HISTORY: This dog had muscle weakness.
HISTOPATHOLOGIC DESCRIPTION: Skeletal muscle: Multifocally effacing and replacing myofibers are discrete aggregates of neutrophils, macrophages, and fewer lymphocytes and plasma cells (pyogranulomas) with frequent intrahistiocytic 3-4um spherical protozoal merozoites. Multifocally, separating and compressing myocytes are multilamellar mucopolysaccharide cysts (“onion skin cysts”) that are up to 200 um in diameter and are centered on a macrophage with abundant foamy to granular cytoplasm and a single nucleus with a prominent nucleolus, surrounded by concentric lamellations of amphophilic, mucinous material, further surrounded by 1-3 layers of spindle cells. Macrophages within the cysts occasionally contain a round to oval 6-10um eosinophilic protozoal trophozoite. Rarely within the center of the cyst, there is a 75um meront containing numerous 4-5 um diameter merozoites. Diffusely there is marked atrophy and loss of myofibers, while remaining myofibers variably exhibit either pale swollen and vacuolated sarcoplasm (degeneration), or hypereosinophilic fragmented sarcoplasm with loss cross of cross strations (necrosis) or basophililc sarcoplasm with multiple central nuclei (regeneration). Multifocally are rare multinucleated, misshapen regenerative myocytes (muscle giant cells) within affected muscle bundles (abortive regeneration). The perimysium and endomysium are expanded up to 50 um by abundant fibrosis and edema, with few scattered macrophages, neutrophils, lymphocytes and plasma cells.
MORPHOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS: Skeletal muscle: Myositis, pyogranulomatous, diffuse, marked, with myocyte degeneration, necrosis, regeneration, and atrophy, fibrosis, and numerous mucopolysaccharide (onion skin) protozoal cysts and merozoites, breed unspecified, canine.
ETIOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS: Hepatozoon myositis
CAUSE: Hepatozoon americanum
CONDITION: American canine hepatozoonosis
- Hepatozoon americanum is a tick-borne apicomplexan protozoan (family Hemogregarinidae)
- First recognized in the U.S. in 1978 on the Gulf of Mexico coast; this organism is now diagnosed in dogs throughout much of the southeastern U.S and is spreading to other states
- Clinical signs, laboratory abnormalities, pathological lesions, tissue tropism, parasite morphology and tick vectors differ from disease associated with canis
- Prominent features of disease: Skeletal and cardiac myositis; disseminated periosteal bone proliferation; massive neutrophilia
- Parasitized cells are of leukocyte origin; when in muscle parasites are in macrophages between muscle fibers and are induced to produce mucopolysaccaride which forms “onion skin” lamellations
Transmitted via ingestion of the definitive host (Amblyomma maculatum); predation with ingestion of cystozoites from infected host tissues; NOT transmitted via tick bite
- Cysts can lie dormant for long periods of time; cycles of asexual reproduction continue when activated (waxing and waning of disease)
- Pyogranulomatous myositis in muscles may stimulate marked periosteal proliferation (especially in younger animals)
- Chronic infection > persisitent antigenic stimulation > vasculitis, proliferative glomerulonephritis, amyloid deposition, uveitis
- Two hosts required for life cycle:
- Definitive host: Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum)
- Note the host for canis is Rhipicephalus sanguineus, the brown dog tick
- Intermediate host: Dogs and other canids
- Definitive host: Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum)
- Immature ticks feed on infected intermediate host > ingest leukocytes containing gamonts > sexual reproduction in tick > oocysts (contain numerous sporocysts, each with 10-26 sporozoites) > tick molts into adult (mature oocysts in hemocoele) > dog ingests infected tick > sporozoites penetrate intestinal wall > enter circulation and move to muscle and target tissues > parasite develops in macrophages between myocytes > layers of mucopolysaccharides laid down around host cell, forming "onion-skin" cyst > asexual reproduction > when mature, cyst ruptures > merozoites released > severe inflammatory response (neutrophils and monocytes) > infected inflammatory cells return to circulation > spread to distant sites or become gamonts > ingested by ticks
TYPICAL CLINICAL FINDINGS
- H. americanum causes a debilitating and usually fatal disease; chronic infection may have waxing and waning or progressively worsening clinical signs
- Clinical signs due to myositis and periosteal bone formation; may mimic those of meningitis or discospondylitis; gait abnormalities; pain; weight loss despite a good appetite; muscle wasting (may be severe); depression; mucopurulent ocular discharge; pyrexia (up to 106 degrees F)
- Clinical pathology
- Leukocytosis (may be severe – ranges from 20,000 to 200,000; characterized by mature neutrophilia +/- left shift)
- Anemia: Mild to moderate, normocytic, normochromic, nonregenerative
- Platelet count: Normal to elevated
- Serum Chemistry:
- Glucose: Artifactually decreased because of increased metabolism of glucose by high numbers of leukocytes (not true hypoglycemia)
- Albumin: Decreased (decreased intake, chronic inflammation, renal loss)
- Globulins: Elevated
- ALP: Mild elevation (due to periosteal inflammation)
- BUN: Decreased (reduced protein intake, negative nitrogen balance, production of inflammatory proteins)
- Low glucose, albumin, and BUN with elevated ALP may be misinterpreted as liver failure; bile acids are normal or slightly elevated
- CK: Almost always normal despite myositis
- Urinalysis: Some infected dogs may develop immune-mediated glomerulonephritis with proteinuria and elevated urine protein:creatinine ratio
TYPICAL GROSS FINDINGS
- Cachexia, muscular atrophy
- Disseminated, symmetric, periosteal new bone formation that most frequently and most severely involves the diaphysis of long bones (femur, humerus, radius, ulna), vertebral column, and pelvis
- Pyogranulomas: 1-2 mm diameter white/tan foci scattered throughout muscle and other tissue
TYPICAL LIGHT MICROSCOPIC FINDINGS
- Myositis with muscle atrophy, necrosis, inflammatory cell infiltrates
- "Onion-skin cysts" in skeletal and cardiac muscle: Round to oval with single round basophilic nucleus surrounded by concentric layers of light blue staining laminar membranes (nonsulfated acid mucopolysaccharide); 250 to 500 um in diameter; may have developing meront inside
- Cysts have also been found in intestinal smooth muscle, adipose tissue, pancreas, spleen, lymph node, liver, skin, kidneys, lungs
- Bone: Periosteal reaction primarily of the more proximal diaphyseal regions, vertebrae, and ilium – woven bone forming trabeculae perpendicular to the cortex
- Kidneys: Renal lesions common; focal pyogranulomatous inflammation with mild glomerulonephritis; lymphoplasmacytic interstitial nephritis; mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis
- Chronic infections: Amyloid deposits in spleen, lymph nodes, small intestine, liver, kidneys; uveitis
- Vascular changes include fibrinoid degeneration of vessel walls, mineralization and proliferation of tunica media, and pyogranulomatous vasculitis
- Apicomplexan protozoa: Conoid, rhoptries, micronemes, micropore, pellicle with subpellicular microtubules
- Unique to Hemogregarinidae: Rhoptries anterior and posterior to nucleus
ADDITIONAL DIAGNOSTIC TESTS
- Blood smears: Unreliable; gamonts rarely observed within neutrophils
- Muscle biopsy: Identification of cysts, meronts and pyogranulomas with zoite-containing leukocytes is diagnostic
- Serology: ELISA: highly sensitive (93%) and specific (96%) when compared to muscle biopsy
- IFA, PCR, IHC
- Bone marrow aspirates: Increased M:E ratio (granulocytic hyperplasia); usually do not see organisms
- Lymph node aspirates: Lymphoid hyperplasia; no organisms
- Ohter protozoan parasites:
- Sarcocystosis, Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum: Muscle lesions develop from cysts with a myriad of zoites without “onion-skin cysts”
- Hepatozoon canis: No muscle lesions; form classic “spoke wheel” schizonts in hemapoietic tissue
- Trypanosoma cruzi: pseudocysts with amastigotes containing a parallel kinetoplast
- Other causes of periosteal proliferation:
- Hypertrophic osteopathy: Very similar histologically and grossly
- H. canis: Carnivorous mammals in Africa, southern Europe, Asia (including Middle East), islands of Pacific and Indian Oceans
- Rodents: muris, H. balfouri
- Gray squirrels: griseiciuri
- Raccoons: procyonis; common in Texas Gulf Coast region
- americanum or a similar organism has also been described in coyotes, bobcats, and ocelots in the southeastern U.S.
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