Spontaneous Lung Lesions in Aging Laboratory Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

T. K. Cooper, J. W. Griffith, Z. C. Chroneos, J. M. Izer, L. B. Willing, X. Peng

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Spontaneous age-related lesions of laboratory rabbits are not well documented in the contemporary scientific literature. A retrospective study of diagnostic necropsies of 36 rabbits >2 years of age found a number of common lung lesions. Fibromuscular intimal hyperplasia affected medium and to a lesser extent large pulmonary arteries and was present to a variable extent in all 36 rabbits >2 years of age. The lesions were characterized by fragmentation and/or reduplication of the internal elastic lamina (IEL), proliferation of smoothelin+/alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA)+/vimentin− smooth muscle cells and fewer smoothelin−/α-SMA+/vimentin+ myofibroblasts, and intimal deposition of collagen without thrombosis, embolism, or evidence of pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary emphysema, present in 30/36 rabbits, was characterized by the loss of alveolar septa; most affected rabbits did not have clinical signs of respiratory disease. In 8/13 rabbits of the inbred EIII/JC audiogenic strain, we identified a unique syndrome of granulomatous pneumonia containing hyaline brown to gray, globular to ring-like acellular material that was Alcian blue and periodic acid-Schiff positive. The material was immunoreactive for surfactant protein-A and had the ultrastructural appearance of multilamellar vesicles, suggesting a genetic defect in surfactant metabolism. Additionally, we found small benign primary lung tumors (fibropapillomas, 5 rabbits) not previously described. Other findings included heterotopic bone (5 rabbits), subacute to chronic suppurative bronchopneumonia, pyogranulomatous pneumonia with plant material, and pulmonary artifacts from barbiturate euthanasia solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-187
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Veterinary


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