Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) are one of many species within zoologic collections that frequently develop iron storage disease. The goals of this retrospective multi-institutional study were to determine the tissue distribution of iron storage in captive adult Egyptian fruit bats and the incidence of intercurrent neoplasia and infection, which may be directly or indirectly related to iron overload. Tissue sections from 83 adult Egyptian fruit bats were histologically evaluated by using tissue sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin, trichrome, and Prussian blue techniques. The liver and spleen consistently had the largest amount of iron, but significant amounts of iron were also detected in the pancreas, kidney, skeletal muscle, and lung. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; 11) was the most common neoplasm, followed by cholangiocarcinoma (4). Extrahepatic neoplasms included bronchioloalveolar adenoma (3), pulmonary carcinosarcoma (1), oral sarcoma (1), renal adenocarcinoma (1), transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder (1), mammary gland adenoma (1), and parathyroid adenoma (1). There were also metastatic neoplasms of undetermined primary origin that included three poorly differentiated carcinomas, a poorly differentiated sarcoma, and a neuroendocrine tumor. Bats with hemochromatosis were significantly more likely to have HCC than bats with hemosiderosis (P = 0.032). Cardiomyopathy was identified in 35/77 bats with evaluable heart tissue, but no direct association was found between cardiac damage and the amount of iron observed within the liver or heart. Hepatic abscesses occurred in multiple bats, although a significant association was not observed between hemochromatosis and bacterial infection. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first publication providing evidence of a positive correlation between hemochromatosis and HCC in any species other than humans.
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