According to previous studies in captive cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) populations, one of the most threatening diseases besides amyloidosis, myelopathy, veno occlusive disease, and gastritis, is renal failure. Contrary to captive cheetahs in North America and South Africa, morphological data concerning renal lesions in the cheetah European Endangered Species Program (EEP) are lacking. This study details the histological characterization as well as immunohistochemical and morphometrical analysis of nephropathies in 35 captive cheetahs from the EEP, which were necropsied between 1985 and 2003. Examination of paraffin- and glycolmethacrylate-methylmethacrylate (GMA-MMA) embedded kidney samples by light microscopy revealed glomerulonephritis in 91%, with a high prevalence for glomerulosclerosis and glomerulonephritis with the histologic pattern of membranous glomerulonephritis (77%). Besides these predominating glomerulopathies, a wide range of other renal lesions, like acute tubular necrosis, interstitial nephritis, calcinosis, and amyloidosis, were present. Pathological expression of collagen type IV, complement C3, fibronectin, and IgG was demonstrated in the glomeruli of the cheetah kidneys with the use of the avidin-biotin complex method. Morphometrical analysis was performed on GMA-MMA embedded kidney samples to obtain glomerulosclerosis index and glomerulosclerosis incidence.
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